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Welsh bureaucrats are in trouble again for their use of social networking websites: seven civil servants have now been disciplined for their comments on Facebook or Twitter.

The latest staff member to draw bosses' ire for online tomfoolery has been banned from promotion for a year after posting remarks on Facebook that were deemed to have breached the civil service code, according to the Press Association. The (un)civil servant was given a written warning by the Welsh government.

A spokesman for the Llywodraeth Cymru said: "As civil servants, Welsh government staff are obliged to adhere to the civil service code, and the provisions in the code governing honesty, political impartiality, objectivity and integrity."

Three other employees were in the naughty chair for similar reasons, while the other three were punished for dissing their colleagues on social media. All the faux pas were made in the past five years.

Steven George-Hilley, director of technology at the thinktank Parliament Street, which obtained the figures through a freedom of information (FOI) request, said: "Banning staff from promotion due to Facebook gaffes exposes a ham-fisted approach to social media.

"Whilst protecting the integrity of the organisation is paramount, employers need to recognise that social media is here to stay and that staff should be trained to utilise digital channels to provide improved services online."

Three of the scolded Welsh civil servants were given warnings last year for inappropriately commenting on government policy, the BBC revealed from an FOI request in March. One public servant was cautioned for posting a comment about Government policy on Twitter; a second tweeting bureaucrat criticised a government consultation; and a third got themselves in hot water by making political comments on a personal Facebook account.

Meanwhile, Keir Starmer, the director of public prosecutions, has issued new guidelines to prosecutors defining exactly how offensive you can be on social media before you land yourself in court. ®

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