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Columnist hits back after mayor blames newspaper for cancelled trip

Fred LeicesterA regional daily columnist has hit back after a directly-elected mayor blamed him for his non-attendance at an international business conference.

As reported on HTFP last week, the Leicester Mercury was told by the city’s mayor Sir Peter Soulsby he would not be visiting this year’s MIPIM event in Cannes, France, due to its coverage of his trip the previous year.

Specifically, Sir Peter highlighted the weekly Fred Leicester column, written by an anonymous Mercury journalist, for his decision not to go.

The mayor said Fred, pictured above left, was “able to use the column to whip up ill-informed popular criticism, basing it on inaccuracy”, after the conference was termed as a “jolly” in the piece.

MIPIM stands for Le marché international des professionnels de l’immobilier, which translates as “the international market for real estate professionals”.

Fred responded to Sir Peter’s accusations with an open letter, in which he described the mayor as “generally doing a half-decent job”.

He wrote: “It’s fair to say there’s been some incredulity in the office this past week when the most powerful man in Leicester said he wasn’t going to Cannes because of a column I wrote a year ago and how I might write about it this time.

“Wouldn’t it be great to pretend I have that kind of influence? But we both know – we all know – that I don’t.”

The scheduled trip to MIPIM came as news of a crisis in social care in Leicester was breaking.

Fred added that he suspected this was one of the reasons Sir Peter didn’t attend the conference, adding: “I imagine it wouldn’t have looked too smart if that story played out while you were pressing the flesh in Cannes.”

Merc SPS