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Editor hits back after mayor criticises ‘press scrutiny’

John Elworthy 1A weekly editor has hit back at a metro mayor who criticised press scrutiny of his charity work.

The Cambs Times revealed that thousands of pounds raised by a charity ball organised by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough mayor James Palmer had not yet been handed over to the intended recipients.

Mr Palmer then commented that he was “shocked and disgusted by the scrutiny my charity work has received in the press in recent days.”

But editor John Elworthy, left, took to Twitter to tell Mr Palmer: “‘Sorry James that’s what’s we do and for good reason.”

Mr Palmer, who heads the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, told a board meeting that he was also “ashamed that the people of Cambridgeshire have questioned the way in which I have raised this money.”

The Cambs Times and its sister titles had earlier revealed that not only had the £120 a ball organised by the mayor not netted the £12,000 previously stated, but the actual sum – of £9,400 – had not even been handed over seven months after the event.

They also revealed that despite publicity surrounding the ball describing it as a charity event, the recipient was in fact a limited company PTSD999 headed up by a former chairman of Cambridge Conservatives.

PTSD999 says it operates as a social enterprise and intends to evolve into a charity to support police, fire and ambulance workers suffering with post traumatic stress.

The newspaper’s campaign has been supported by opposition councillors in Cambridgeshire, including Lib Dem Cllr Lucy Nethsingha who heads the scrutiny committee on the combined authority.

She tweeted: “Massive praise for @johnelworthy for persistently perusing this. Another example of why good local journalism is so crucial in holding those in power to account. I’ve asked for a full report to come to next scrutiny committee.”

A spokesman for Mayor Palmer told the Times: “The fundraising amount is ready to be paid to PTSD999 and we are working with them to finalise arrangements.

“As previously mentioned, the final reconciliation of the numbers meant the immediate post-ball figure given to the mayor had to be revised down a bit.”

“The ball made a big surplus for a good cause.

“The combined authority’s final audited accounts will be made public, and so will the report that our scrutiny committee has asked for. This is as far as we can take this particular inquiry.”