Did council high-flyer gloat about ‘scumbags’?

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The suspended boss of the council’s regulatory unit allegedly posted “gloating and vindictive” messages about members of the public on her Facebook page, the Citizen can reveal.

Former trading standards head Karen Ford is currently under official investigation to determine whether or not she will be sacked from her £55,000 a year job.

Council chiefs are keeping mum about her alleged wrongdoing, insisting the details are confidential.

But this week a public source produced screen shots of Ms Ford’s personal Facebook page – with some shocking messages allegedly written by her.

The first message apparently refers to a couple of people Ms Ford had prosecuted within her trading standards role.

A posting immediately after their conviction reads: ‘Ha, one scumbag got sent down and another has to cough up £65k in fines and costs. that’ll learn ya!’

Later another message adds: ‘Oo – not forgetting the £600k the latter one has to pay off as proceeds of crime. Stick that in ya Christmas stocking.’

Also on the page is a joke about Professor Stephen Hawking, branded “sick” by people who have read it.

All these messages have since been removed from Facebook.

A Citizen source said: “Any high-ranking council employee who posts gloating and vindictive messages on a social messaging site would be acting in a highly unprofessional manner to say the least.

“You just cannot refer to clients as scumbags – even if they have just been prosecuted.”

It is believed the alleged messages were visible to any member of the public who clicked on Ms Ford’s profile, otherwise they could not have been accessed by people not within her circle of friends.

The source said: “Nobody can stop council staff using social messaging sites, but things like this are not good at all for a local authority’s reputation or public image.”

Ms Ford was head of trading standards until April 2012 and was instrumental in several large prosecution cases all over the city.

She was then promoted to become head of the Milton Keynes Council Regulatory Unit, which is one of the authority’s most powerful departments.

It deals with trading standards and all aspects of environmental health, including food hygiene inspections.

A council spokesman confirmed: “We have been made aware of some allegations but this is a neutral procedure. A suspension is common practice and gives no implication of guilt.”

It is usual practice for a council employee to be paid a full salary for the duration of a suspension.