• Western Morning News:  Police urged to investigate “cull” Tories blog remark

    2nd December 2014 | News | Claire
  • http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Police-urged-investigate-cull-Tories-blog-remark/story-25016293-detail/story.html

    A councillor and would-be MP could be investigated by the police cyber crime unit after comments posted on a blog called for a “cull” of Conservatives in East Devon.

    Cabinet member Phil Twiss took offence at a comment posted on Claire Wright’s web page in response to a council U-turn on the location for a new office headquarters.

    Mrs Wright, an independent who lives in West Hill, Ottery St Mary, removed the post, which was written by a reader, Chris Wilkins.

    Critics of the local authority have accused Mr Twiss of over-reacting, wasting police time and playing politics ahead of the general election.

    Mrs Wright, a candidate for Parliament next May, recently saw the odds against her unseating the current Tory MP for the area, Hugo Swire, slashed from 50/1 to 16/1.

    Paul Arnott, chairman of the East Devon Alliance, a group critical of the Conservative council, said the term “cull” is a “commonly used expression which in a political context means reduce”.

    “When the BBC’s Nick Robinson talks of a cull of Labour MPs in Scotland after the next election nobody imagines them being chased across grouse moors with shotguns,” he added.

    Mr Wilkins, who wrote “Cull all Tory Councillors” on the website, called the reaction “preposterous and utterly pathetic”.

    Councillor Twiss, the Tory cabinet member for corporate services, said the text was “highly offensive and threatening”.

    A notice pinned to the West Hill Conservative Party notice board said the matter had been referred to the authorities.

    “No matter how much we disagree on various issues to knowingly publish a comment in likely breach of the Malicious Communications Act 1988 such as this is below contempt and I trust you will join me in condemning this action,” Coun Twiss wrote.

    He added that “in the absence of any sort of explanation” from Coun Wright, he had “passed the details of the blog together with those of a resident of Feniton to Devon And Cornwall Police Cyber crime unit for comment”.

    Coun Wright said she was always careful to moderate offensive or libellous comments but took the “cull” post “in the electoral sense”. She also said she felt she was being “targeted” by the Conservative leadership.

    “There is an election next May so the stakes seem to be raising. It is a shame that they have forced an unnecessary task onto the police, who are struggling to keep up with important core work.”

    No one from Devon and Cornwall Police was available for comment.