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Editor slams political candidate over ‘malicious’ Twitter claim

Caerphilly GurnerAn editor has hit back at a political candidate who wrongly claimed his newspaper had refused to publish a story about his candidacy.

Richard Gurner, who edits the Caerphilly Observer, has slammed Gavin Chambers, a Conservative candidate for the Welsh Senedd, for spreading “malicious falsehoods about our journalism” on Twitter.

Mr Chambers, who is standing in the Islwyn constituency for the Tories, claimed the Observer “won’t publish my story” in a post on Twitter.

But this was refuted by Richard, pictured, who published a story last month announcing Mr Chambers’s candidacy.

In his post, Mr Chambers wrote: “I was born in a council house. I work for the NHS currently on the front line with the covid fight.

“I am the Conservative candidate for Islwyn at the next elections but Wales Online or the Caerphilly Observer won’t publish my story. Please help me share my story.”

His claim was quickly debunked by Richard, who replied: “It’s easy to post things on Twitter that aren’t true. At no point have I refused to publish Mr Chambers’s story

“He sent us a press release stating he was a candidate back in December. The only Senedd election story we’ve done so far is one profiling Tory candidates! Call me.

“We’ve mentioned who the candidates are, and as we approach the election we’ll be doing more in-depth coverage of the personalities and policies involved.”

In response, Mr Chambers wrote: “We will be publishing some facts [sic] how many times you post stories for Labour and not us.

“Watch this space everyone. Glad you acknowledged one of my email [sic] via Twitter.”

Speaking to HTFP, Richard criticised Mr Chambers for his actions.

He said: “I am disappointed that a candidate seeking to represent the people of Islwyn would take to social media to spread malicious falsehoods about our journalism.

“Just because we haven’t published anything substantial about Mr Chambers and his campaign yet, doesn’t mean we ‘won’t’ – to quote him.

“While we haven’t firmed up our election coverage plans just yet, be in no doubt that we will robustly examine Mr Chambers’s election promises and he will get his fair share of coverage – as will other candidates.

“I am always receptive to valid criticism of our journalism, and where we get it wrong we acknowledge it and improve.

“However, it is difficult to respond to criticism when it is based on an outright lie.”

Wales Online has declined to comment on the matter, but it is not believed to have received any request to run a story on Mr Chambers or his candidacy.

In a statement, Islwyn Conservatives said: “We fully support gavin [sic] comments and thank him for his hard work in returning to the NHS at this time.

It added: “We are pleased at least gavin [sic] got a mention in this article.”