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Councillor threatens daily editor with violence in abusive rant at journalist

Jessica FKA councillor threatened a regional daily editor with violence and abused a local democracy reporter over a story she was planning to cover.

The unnamed councillor launched a tirade at Jessica Frank-Keyes, who works for the Eastern Daily Press under the BBC-funded scheme, describing her as a “crass waste of licence fee payers’ money” and a “freelancer”.

Jessica, pictured, revealed she had been subjected to the abuse in a series of Twitter posts, in which she disclosed that the council member had also threatened EDP editor David Powles with “violence”.

David has told HTFP he will be taking up the matter with the councillor and the local authority in question.  The paper has decline to publicly name and shame the individual concerned.

Posting on Twitter, Jessica wrote: “To the councillor who called me a ‘freelancer’ and a ‘crass waste of licence fee payers’ money’, I think people living in Norfolk see the value of stories about planning applications, local businesses, rural deprivation, Ofsted results, the spending of public money and climate change. Even if you don’t.

“Also you clearly don’t know many journalists if you think threatening my editor with violence is the way to get me not to report a story.

“Should add, the vast majority of councillors have been nothing but polite, professional and welcoming, even when I’m writing stories they may find critical.

“Also, nothing wrong with being a freelancer – although they clearly didn’t think so.”

Jessica’s decision to speak out prompted her comments to be widely shared on the social media site, with many fellow users sending her messages of support.

She told HTFP: “I didn’t expect the tweets to take off quite so much – as a journalist you get used to dealing with criticism – but it’s been great to see how much support there is for the local democracy reporter scheme and the valuable role it plays.”

David added: “Any form of abuse towards my team will not be tolerated, especially when they are simply trying to do their job.

“I shall be taking this matter up internally with the individual and organisation involved.”

6 comments

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  • January 27, 2020 at 11:45 am
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    If this councillor made threats of violence, that’s more than just a bit of name calling on social media and needs reporting to the Police.

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  • January 27, 2020 at 12:14 pm
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    First rule of thumb, never criticise a journalist especially if you’re a councillor – you need all the help you can get!

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  • January 27, 2020 at 12:46 pm
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    There seems to be much negative activity in Norfolk involving the local paper and various government bodies these days, an uneasy relationship but wholly unacceptable it’s resorted to threats of violence, name and shame I say

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  • January 27, 2020 at 12:54 pm
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    I’ve covered two councils closely in my local paper days and work with two now in my current role, and I find most councillors to be barely sentient. Usually little more than an iron lung and an attitude with a background in used car sales.

    The current council I work with operates like Polermo. Your nan is a councillor, so is your granddad and at least one parent, you lap up the free coffee at meetings and pocket your six grand for being in the ‘town centre pigeons oversite committee’.

    Meanwhile calls and emails from your desperate constituents about housing, litter and crime largely go unanswered.

    The most entertaining thing about most council meetings is watching council officers trying to explain to a councillor that you can’t deny a license to a taxi driver purely because he used to go out with your sister and you don’t like him.

    I don’t know what an alternative form of local government would look like, but I’ve always thought that surely there must be something better than this.

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  • January 27, 2020 at 1:38 pm
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    I’d suggest to both Jessica and David that the Cllr should be named, they should also report the incident to both the Monitoring Officer and the police without further delay. I’ve run my own newspaper for the past 13 years and last year was elected onto both our Town and District Councils and the silly s**s went and made me Mayor.
    The reason I stood for Council is that I’d become completely hacked off with the behaviour of certain Cllrs as they believed the rules of decent behaviour didn’t apply to them. In effect, ‘bad’ behaviour became ‘normal’ behaviour a few months down the line and so the degeneration continued.
    Central Government has to address this issue as unless you murder someone or commit some other serious crime, there is little that can be done to sanction Cllrs, but they really don’t like being named….in public.

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  • January 27, 2020 at 5:24 pm
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    What’s Polermo? Is it some new type of cigarette/ I’ve Googled it and I’m getting nothing back.

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