A senior council officer has resigned after a Harrogate-based local news website outed him as Twitter troll @ChippyGlory.
The successful resolution of the identity of the abusive and frequently obscene and misogynistic (and since deleted) Tweeter followed a two-year investigation by local news site The Stray Ferret.
In a comical masterstroke worthy of the finest seasonal pantomime, Harrogate Borough Council official Steve Rogers, who used the hidden Twitter identity to hurl insults at fellow councillors, journalists and other public figures, was, in his day job, Harrogate Borough Council’s parking enforcement manager.
Among those targeted was Daily Star deputy news editor Keane Duncan, formerly of the Hull Daily Mail, who is also a Conservative member of North Yorkshire County Council and who was accused by Mr Rogers of being “a man clearly in love with his own voice and importance.”
Further lowlights of Rogers’ Twitter career included dubbing Harrogate Residents Association’s Anna McIntee “Barbie,” suggesting a serving police officer should be “helping ur male colleagues harrass, rape and murder victims,” and accusing then-PM Boris Johnson’s wife Carrie of having an “overactive f**ny.”
As a result of the investigation, in which the publication tracked the @ChippyGlory account for two years after being told by a source that it was run by a council manager, Mr Rogers resigned with “immediate effect” from the council.
He also apologised, telling the Stray Ferret: “I regret any offence that I may have caused. I would like to think I have moderated my persona over recent months. I apologise for my previous behaviour.”
Stray Ferret founder and managing editor Tamsin O’Brien told Hold The Front Page: “Rogers’ posts weren’t just unpleasant – they were often deeply offensive, explicit and misogynistic. They targeted local public figures, including councillors at the same authority, and made very personal attacks on them. For such an account to be run by a public servant meant it was clearly in the public interest that the person behind it was exposed.”
The drama didn’t end with the big reveal, however. In a further twist Councillor Richard Cooper, leader of the Conservative-run council, called for an apology from Cllr Matthew Webber, a Liberal Democrat councillor who was himself a victim of Mr Rogers’ abuse.
Cooper claimed, in an email that was copied to all councillors, as well as the authority’s chief executive and Rogers, that Cllr Webber had brought the council “into disrepute” by “following accounts clearly and specifically designed to insult and degrade me.”
O’Brien added: “What has been even more interesting is the reaction within Harrogate Borough Council. The fraught emails between councillors and the chief executive suggest the authority was struggling to cope with the situation and could even have threatened its internal HR process had Rogers not resigned.
“This is exactly the reason the Stray Ferret was founded: to hold local authorities to account and publish difficult stories that are clearly in the public interest.”