SHIPTONTHORPE TURMOIL – 2. Discredit the messenger.

Media organisations and individual journalists are often criticised for either inaccuracy or bias.

I cannot claim that the Bugle is a media organisation. Indeed, Cllr David Gough has described the Bugle as:

“A local web gossip paper who is a friend of clerk”

All I can say is that I try to keep gossip to a minimum, provide actual facts and encourage debate. It is, however, sometimes difficult or impossible to provide balanced coverage when elected councillors and chairs of local charities do not respond to informal requests for information.

At the PC meeting on 21 September 2023 village hall trustee Ian Jeffrey praised Cllr David Gough for retrieving documents which allegedly did not exist in the face of suppression, deceit, distain and malevolence. After suggesting that Cllr Ducker should do the honourable thing he gave the Pocklington Bugle a bit of a tongue lashing saying:

“The Bugle has contented itself, in the main, on bad mouthing and undermining the new council team and all the good it has been seeking to do. I would have thought any principled journalist would have been looking for the real issue and questioning why 52% of the electorate turned out in a parish council election. Let’s face it, this was the highest turn out of anywhere in England! You might ask for instance, what motivated and inspired this community to do so – why was there such a record-breaking turnout – why were 8 new candidates elected – surely that was a story worth telling, but unfortunately that is not what we got – shame on you Pocklington Bugle.”

When I challenged Mr Jeffrey to provide any evidence of inaccuracies in any story I had written he failed to do so.

He said that Bugle had been running the wrong story. Mr Jeffrey is entitled to his opinion. Making decisions about which story to run is subjective. But he is wrong about the Bugle not acknowledging the outcome of the election. I did so in a post on 6 May 2023.

I have to admit the turnout information was included in a story about police being called on election day, but I did report on turnout. I made a subjective decision to lead on the police involvement as it is very rare for police to be called to a parish polling station.

I am thankful to Mr Jeffries because his claim that I am an ‘unprincipled journalist’ was one of the motivations which has led me to write this series of stories. Usually when people attack journalists their aim is to discredit the individual journalist and sow the seeds of doubt in readers minds in the hope that they will not believe what is written or not read it at all.

If you want to attract a journalists attention just use words like deceit, defamation, secrecy and cover up. Go on to claim that the journalist is reporting the wrong story, bad mouthing and undermining a council and it’s like catnip for journalists. Especially retired ones who want to keep their hand in.

Running a news-based Facebook group I expect to receive occasional criticism. However, I think it is totally wrong for Mr Jeffrey to then attack others for commenting or expressing a view. In his statement he also accused a member of the community who spoke at the August council meeting of being critical and disparaging about Cllr Gough.

He ended his statement by saying:

“Shame on you Pocklington Bugle and all those who peddled their vitriolic narrative for you to publish and the ill-informed who then showed their support by ‘liking’ and commenting upon this nonsense.”

I asked Mr Jeffries to apologise for his remarks about me before noon on Monday 2 October but he replied saying:

“I acknowledge receipt of your email timed at 17.56hrs on the 28th September 2023. I note that you have continued with your aggressive messaging.”

It has been pointed out to me that the comments made by Mr Jeffrey were his views and not the councils and it is not council policy to monitor Facebook comments. Yet Mr Jeffries full written statement has been published by the council on their website and is now available as a public record. For some reason Mr Jeffrey also felt the need to copy his e mail replies to the council chairman and vice chair Cllr Steve Powel.


  • No evidence has been provided to prove that the Pocklington Bugle has published inaccurate stories about the work of the current Shiptonthorpe Parish Council.
  • Mr Jeffrey thinks the Bugle has covered the wrong story.
  • Mr Jeffrey considers that some people who have previously commented on Facebook are ill informed and to have done so with bitter criticism or malice.
  • Mr Jeffrey is not a member of the Bugle Facebook group, so I do not know how he knows what information has been posted.
  • I am not a friend of the clerk. This is a claim made by Cllr David Gough without any evidence or justification.
  • As a principled journalist I look for evidence before making claims. Not after.
  • It has been pointed out to me that the comments made about the Bugle were made by a member of the public not the council.
  • When Cllr Ducker asked why grass cutting had been included on the agenda of the last meeting the chair replied by saying “he had been asked to put it on the agenda because of a lot of speculation on line”.
  • When a member of the public asked for clarity about comments made in the village newsletter because she didn’t recall seeing it. The chairman responded by saying “Cllr Powell tells me that you made a comment online regarding it”
  • After previewing this article, a member of the Parish Council has stated that it is not council policy to monitor social media posts.

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