AddThis SmartLayers

Councillor sacked after daily’s probe attacks ‘corrupt’ local press in Twitter rant

A councillor dismissed from his job after a city daily’s investigation has accused local newspapers of being “corrupt” – and backed proposals for a fresh Leveson inquiry into the industry.

Cllr Mike Sparling, who sits on Plymouth City Council, hit out after the recent House of Lords vote in favour of a clause which would see publishers not signed up to a state-approved watchdog pay both sides’ costs in data protection cases.

Back in 2015, the Plymouth Herald’s then political reporter Patrick Daly revealed how Cllr Sparling was sacked from his job as a police call handler after being accused of calling in sick to go canvassing in that year’s general election, in which he was the Labour candidate for Torridge and West Devon, although Cllr Sparling himself denied this was the case.

In his Twitter rant, the councillor branded Patrick a “plonker” and accused him of “s*** ill-informed journalism.”

Patrick Daly's story about Cllr Sparling losing his job

Patrick Daly’s story about Cllr Sparling losing his job

In his outburst, Cllr Sparling wrote: “Encouraging to see peers backing Leveson 2. As I can appreciate from personal experience, the relationship between journalists and the police can be unhealthy, damaging, ‘worth a drink’ and even corrupt. [Patrick] might know something about this.”

He added: “Classic example of s***, ill-informed journalism from a very junior journalist trying to make a name for himself. Fine example of integrity and ethics gone awry in journalism.”

In response to the outburst, Patrick, who has since gone to become parliamentary correspondent for several regional newspapers, posted on Twitter: “Boy, oh boy, did I enjoy reading this tweet. Nothing but good source work ratted you out I’m afraid, councillor.”

He added: “Funny that – it is often someone else’s fault when an individual gets caught out. So far you’ve blamed a journalist and the police for simply reporting or responding to your own actions.”

Peers recently voted in favour of a clause which closely mirrored the infamous  Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act, which was designed to force publishers to sign up to a ‘recognised’ system of press regulation.

However both Theresa May and Culture Secretary Matt Hancock have vowed to overturn the vote in the House of Commons.


You can follow all replies to this entry through the comments feed.
  • January 22, 2018 at 11:20 am

    As Mandy Rice Davies said at the trial involving the Profumo scandal” Well, he would say that wouldn’t he”. Only people with something to hide want stricter controls on the Press in this country which already has to work within some of the most severe laws in the world.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(9)
  • January 22, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    It is nothing short of disgraceful that the UK slipped to 40th place in the World Press Freedom Index rankings. The reason is simple: a steady succession of political attempts to fetter a free press in the country through any means possible – e.g. attaching amendments to bills; draconian legislation in areas such as data protection, and trying to introduce a state regulator. Norway is no.1 on the list; North Korea is last at No.180 – but just look at who is ahead of us, and just below us on the list. Humiliating.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(5)
  • January 22, 2018 at 8:51 pm

    I should add to my previous comment : – and these are people running our councils. He did wrong but won’t admit it which is why he is trying to muzzle the Press.

    Report this comment

    Like this comment(3)