A regional newspaper editor has spoken out after his newspaper was accused of being “corrupt” by a local councillor.
During a meeting of Torbay Council it was claimed that the Herald Express in Torquay had acted improperly during the run-up to a referendum on whether Torbay wanted an elected mayor.
Coun Chris Lomas claimed that members of the council had been “ousted from office by a corrupt newspaper”.
But his comments have been dismissed by editor Brendan Hanrahan, who said he had little time for the outburst.
He told readers: “As for the demented ravings about the character of the organisation which I’m privileged and honoured to lead, I won’t even give them the dignity of a moment’s reflection.
“However, I would point out we have one of the most envied circulation records in the UK regional press thanks to our wonderfully loyal army of readers, many of them six days a week, who regard us as a family friend, and who may be somewhat upset, by association, to be falsely and unfairly abused in this manner.”
Following the meeting the Herald Express sought legal advice from its lawyers, who said that some of the statements made were potentially actionable as slander.
But Brendan said he would not be taking the matter further.
He said: “It is highly unlikely I will instigate legal action against Torbay Council on behalf of myself or the company given that this may put pressure on the public purse which is funded by local taxpayers and I’m on their side and nobody else’s.
“I’m also confident in the trust I place in decent law-abiding people about what’s true about me and my paper and what is not true.”
Coun Lomas said he felt the paper was corrupt for several reasons.
He said: “Editorial content is acceptable but the Herald Express has changed the way government works in Torbay. That is not acceptable.
“Secondly the Herald Express has published untrue statements and refused to correct them. Thirdly letters to the Herald Express have been changed, delayed or not published in order to support the political view point of the newspaper.
“And fourthly where there is only one local newspaper, I believe that the paper should present a balanced view point. To not do so is an abuse of power.”
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