Town councillorquits overnaked photo

Date: Friday 15th September 2017
Part of the picture which led to the resignation of Jamie Ayers.
Part of the picture which led to the resignation of Jamie Ayers.

A PENRITH town councillor has resigned after a woman claimed he sent her an unsolicited nude photo of himself. Jamie Ayers stood down from his position of his own volition on Monday.

The town council confirmed that it had been made aware of “a potential breach of the council’s social media policy and code of conduct” and had been seeking guidance from Eden Council’s monitoring officer as to what action should be taken, before Mr. Ayers took matters into his own hands.

The Herald was contacted by a friend of the woman who received the photo, showing him naked to just above the groin, which was sent along with a suggestive message.

While Mr. Ayers, who is in his 30s and is a guitarist and songwriter now with the band No Thrills, has not responded to the Herald’s requests for comment, he has taken to social media — on which he has publicly shared similar photos in the past —to comment on the situation.

His post, on Wednesday, said: “I looked up sexual harassment yesterday and I very sheepishly must admit that I am guilty by definition of this offence, and whereas I may not agree with that definition, as it is it does appear I have been sexually harassing the whole world for what is probably years now with unsolicited topless photographs.

“I do therefore wholeheartedly, sincerely and publicly apologise to every single person in the whole world who may have been effected (sic) by these images. If my images have made anyone feel uncomfortable, that is indeed the definition of sexual harassment, and I would urge everyone to familiarise oneself with what classes as sexual harassment.

“I have been unknowingly guilty due to my own ignorance. In the eyes of the law, ignorance, nor whether the action that caused the offence was intended as sexual or otherwise, do not count as mitigating circumstances.

“That being said, I would ask you all to also consider, in light of the serious implications of sexual harassment to everyone involved, that before making accusations, people also think very seriously, because it undermines the true victims of actual serious sexual harassment, where actual real offence is caused by those who imitate offence for entertainment.

“This has been a very costly lesson to learn over the past week in some ways, but as someone who finds sexual harassment absolutely abhorrent, I am nether (sic) the less thankful that I now have the knowledge to correct my behaviour.”

Mr. Ayers accompanied his post with images showing other parties discussing the photograph, which has since been removed as his profile picture.

Penrith mayor Scott Jackson said it was likely that the council would have taken action regarding Mr. Ayers’s conduct if he had not resigned. A spokesman for the town council said: “Penrith Town Council can confirm that we have accepted this week the resignation of Councillor Ayers. No official reason was given with his resignation to the town clerk.

“The town council was made aware of a potential breach of the council’s social media policy and code of conduct last week and had been seeking guidance from Eden Council’s monitoring officer. Councillor Ayers was informed of this process and has resigned.

“The town council is advertising the vacancy according to legislation. Following this, should no election be called, the seat will be available for co-option.The council currently has seven vacancies: five are available for co-option, with one each in Penrith East, Pategill and Carleton wards, and two in Penrith North; two are currently posted with the possibility of an election.”