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Complainant Name:
Mr Malcolm Davis

Clauses Noted: 1, 2

Publication: Dudley News

Complaint:

Mr Malcolm Davis complained that a series of letters in the run-up to the local elections in Dudley in May 2007 in which he lost his seat as a UKIP councillor contained inaccurate and misleading information about him and that he had been denied an opportunity to reply.

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the newspaper published the following letter from the complainant in addition to an editorial note of apology:

In the run-up to the last local elections, certain allegations were made against me in the letters pages of the Dudley News. I would like to set the record straight since I was not afforded an opportunity to reply at the time. The claims concerned my affiliation to other political parties and the stance I took in respect of the application for a mosque and associated community centre on land off Hall Street, Dudley. I would like to make it clear that I stand for UKIP and I have never been a member of any other political group apart from the Liberal Democrats. I am chairman of UKIP in the Dudley Metropolitan Borough and have never held any executive position in any other party. References to me being a member of the Conservatives, Labour or the British National Party were misleading and untrue. I have always stood with the people of Dudley who opposed the mosque scheme and my position has never changed. The allegation that, as a member of the Central Area Committee in 2000, I agreed to the "land swap" deal with the Muslims of Dudley is untrue. In fact, I was the only member who refused to vote in its favour. At that time on the committee, there were 14 Labour councillors so I had little influence on the overall decision. At the Central Area Committee meeting just before the last elections, I challenged the other members over this. It was made clear at this public meeting that the committee had no powers to authorise anything but could only make a recommendation to full council. It was at full council that the ruling Labour group agreed the deal. I find it despicable that certain subversive political elements used the Dudley News website to post a bogus "apology" in my name over the mosque issue. Fortunately, the hoax was exposed and I am informed by the newspaper's publishers that safeguards have been put in place to combat this sort of abuse. I would also like to point out that during my seven-year term as councillor for St James' ward I devoted my time to looking after the needs of all vulnerable groups. I dealt with more than 4,000 individual cases and submitted petitions with over 40,000 names, including nearly all the 23,000 signatures I obtained against the mosque application, which was eventually thrown out. The latest petition I have submitted contains 3,000 signatures on behalf of the staff, residents and families of Arcal Lodge, which is facing closure.

Editor's note: We accept the points raised by Mr Davis and regret any misunderstanding.

Report: 76



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