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Inside Out - Let's not feed the piranha press

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Oh dear. I hate to be proved right. A few weeks ago I said the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives & Senior Managers should postpone its annual bash at the Savoy as it would feed the piranha press with fresh meat. Unfortunately, we had a bit of a feeding frenzy.

There were scurrilous articles in the Sunday Times about the Savoy dinner, and the Express about the Scottish Solace bash.

Both presidents were harassed by the press: Kim Ryley in England and Wales and Ronnie Hinds in Scotland. The articles inferred there were lavish meals either paid for by the taxpayer, or funded by private companies in return for lucrative contracts - oblivious to the straitjacket of public procurement.

I said we should wake up and smell the coffee and realise we are fighting a propaganda war

Inside Out was misquoted, and misrepresented. Let me be clear, I am not against these national gatherings. In fact the opposite.

They are incredible networking and learning opportunities - especially important in times of fundamental change. The Sunday Times said I don’t attend such bashes. How do they know? I might have been there. (I thought the president’s talk was very good!)

The point of my Inside Out column was that we are facing an onslaught from people who don’t fight fairly. Mr Pickles isn’t our friend and certain elements of the press will spin and distort facts to suit their own ignorance and that of their readers.

I said we should wake up and smell the coffee and realise we are fighting a propaganda war, adjust our strategy and tactics, and certainly not give them any ammunition. I still feel we should have postponed the dinners.

I know the Sunday Times spoke to Solace and the editor of the LGC before they published their article. But their reporter ignored corrections to their interpretation of my article and the nature of the Savoy dinner. I believe it has been referred to the Press Complaints Commission.

I’m not surprised they ignored Kim and Emma. After all, why let facts get in the way of a good story.

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The one thing he won’t comment on is his identity…

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