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Editor hits out after MP attacks weekly in its own pages

Bill WigginA weekly editor has hit back after a “press-loathing” MP used his regular column to criticise the newspaper in its own pages.

Bill Wiggin, Tory MP for North Herefordshire, took advantage of his Hereford Times column to accuse John Wilson, who edits the paper, of printing “misinformation” afteer publishing a supportive letter from a reader.

In April, Mr Wiggin described John as “hopeless” and accused the Independent Press Standards Organisation of being a “press protector” during a House of Commons debate, after the press watchdog rejected his complaint about a Times story on the MP’s links to an offshore financial company.

Following the spat, a reader called Les Hardy wrote a letter in support of the Times, praising its “excellent” work in holding local politicians to account.

In his letter, which was published in the paper on 31 May, Mr Hardy added he was “surprised” Mr Wiggin continued to submit a column every third week given his comments, questioning tongue-in-cheek whether he was paid for the piece.

Responding to the letter in his Times column last week, Mr Wiggin wrote: “As the editor well knows, I receive no payment for this and it is a shame to have to once again clarify misinformation.

“The fact that the editor has deliberately chosen to publish this sort of misleading information is what makes me so passionate about fighting for press accountability and accessible low-cost arbitration.

“In the age of information overload we need quality from our papers. I write this column not for the editor but for the readership of the Hereford Times who are my constituents.

“I am delighted to provide updates for the people of North Herefordshire from Westminster and on my activities in the constituency, and will continue to for as long as I have the opportunity to do so.”

Now John has hit back in an editorial, describing Mr Wiggin as a “press-loathing” MP who was “twisting a Hereford Times reader’s words in a clumsy attempt to lend credibility to his attempts to shackle newspapers in this country”.

He added: “Leaving aside Mr Wiggin’s failure to understand a comic aside, his remarks are pompous and disingenuous. Papers such as the Hereford Times are subject to some of the strictest legal and ethical restraints in the Western world.

“Mr Wiggin is the sort of politician who supports free speech… but only when he approves of what is being said.”


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  • June 20, 2018 at 10:11 am

    It is probably best not have a column by a politician in any local paper. Just opens you up to accusations, completely unjustified of course, of propaganda and bias.
    Seen some examples in my time of editors sucking up pathetically to local MPs, though this seems to be a welcome exception.

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  • June 20, 2018 at 10:43 am

    Shipping Forecast: Teacup: Stormy, with gales strong to severe; choppy; expect some spillage.

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  • June 20, 2018 at 2:03 pm

    Digger: I’ve got a shorter word, rhymes with CAT.

    Also agree with Clem’s assessment. This wouldn’t be a plot between these two to drum up readers/votes, would it? Otherwise, why give Mr Wiggin a column in the first place? He clearly hates all journalists and these journalists, quite rightly, hate him back.

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  • June 20, 2018 at 4:28 pm

    Remember him when I was a journalist in London in the 1980s. The word “patronising” would be a polite understatement

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  • June 21, 2018 at 7:59 am

    One word; rhymes with the second half of Jeremy Hunt.
    Don’t know the bloke – but he’s a Tory, so good enough for me!

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  • June 21, 2018 at 1:33 pm

    He’s my MP, sadly. It’s typical that he should use an entirely justified attack on his ethics (a day a week helping offshore tax avoiders when he should be being our MP) to try to cosy up to campaigners trying to stop vicious harassment by the red tops. He’s also got form in the expenses scandal. Never let him fool you! Incidentally, in the days when HT was run by a bunch of Tory crawlers, he was able to announce that little earner in a press release and it passed entirely without comment. Well done, John Wilson, but watch your back!

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