AddThis SmartLayers

News & Journal caught up in legal spat over village post office closure

A row that has broken out between a parish council chairman and a Gloucestershire weekly has resulted in a complaint to the press watchdog and the threat of legal action against the newspaper.

It was sparked when the Stroud News & Journal published a story about the closure of a village post office in its January 30 edition.

The story, along with its offending headline, has been removed from the News & Journal website but relates to comments from a postmaster as to why he was closing down, citing the attitude of local politicians as a factor.

Minchinhampton Parish Council chairman Eilis Cope claims she was horrified – and libeled – by what was written in the paper and contacted the Press Complaints Commission.

She was also dissatisfied by editor Sue Smith’s written response to the PCC investigation, despite the News & Journal printing an apology concerning the original coverage.

All parties are now awaiting the press watchdog’s decision.

Coun Cope said: “I am also taking legal action on this.”

She claims: “The headline was libellous and she [the editor] has caused a lot of grief in this community.

“Why would we want to close this post office? It’s ridiculous. We have an ageing population and it is a key part of life here.”

Sue Smith was unavailable for comment. She has been editor of the weekly Stroud News & Journal since January 2005. She was previously news editor of the Journal for four years but started her journalism career in 1976 as a trainee reporter on the Bury Free Press in Bury St Edmunds.

Before that she was at the Oxford Journal and Brighton Journal, the Daily Mail and Weekend magazine.

June Griffin, publisher of the Stroud News and Journal, said: “We are not commenting on internal matters at the moment.”

And Gerry Keighley, regional managing editor of Newsquest Wales and Gloucestershire, declined to make any comment on the matter.