Wednesday, 4 November 2009

MP Criticised For Media Manipulation

Reading East MP, Rob Wilson (Conservative) is facing an increasing barrage of criticism after he issued a press release prematurely claiming credit for the community campaign to save a local pub.

Local media outlets picked up the announcement and published reports repeating Mr Wilson's claims, which were subsequently picked up by Green party blogger Adrian Windisch.

Adrian notes that it is a grassroots and cross-party effort, but Mr Wilson claims he 'spearheaded' the campaign, despite not attending any meetings of the Jollydarity committee, nor appearing among the 227 members of the 'Save The Jolly Angler' facebook group.

Mr Wilson pre-emptively named the company which he says has already concluded negotiations, thereby putting a potential deal at risk, whilst also stating that the restrictive covenant placed on the sale of the property by current owners Enterprise Inns has been removed - a fact which is yet to be confirmed.

Reading Post removed an article (see here) it published online after receiving numerous complaints, replacing it with a short statement that the Jolly Anglers is 'rumoured' to be re-opening.

They quote West Berkshire Brewery spokesman Dave Maggs, who said, "Negotiations are ongoing and that is all I can say."

Meanwhile BBC Berkshire and Reading 107fm amended their articles after outraged campaigners got in contact, while Reading Chronicle undertook a complete rewrite to change the emphasis.

The Chronicle's Newsdesk quotes Mr Wilson's statement that he was "delighted that this has been resolved and we have saved a great British pub from disappearing," but adds a contradictory statement from WBW director Karen Baum, who said she was 'hopeful' a deal would be concluded, but that it was still too early to confirm anything at this stage.

LibDem parliamentary candidate Cllr Gareth Epps made an implicit attack on the man he hopes to unseat at the General Election, saying that any suggestion of the "pub reopening is only speculation at this stage, and it would be irresponsible to say anything that could put negotiations in jeopardy."

Oranjepan says:
Mr Wilson's desperate attempt to curry favour by providing local news organisations with a cheap and inaccurate headline has damaged his reputation and embarrassed editors.


Background: Save Our Pubs!


  1. Correct yourself, Mr Pan - there was no Chronicle re-write, the story up now is exactly as it first went up.

    Please amend your blog as soon as possible!

  2. On second thoughts, 'exactly' isn't quite right - the story is the same except for the additional comment from Mr Epps.

    No change in emphasis or the intro, though.

  3. Adam,
    I'm happy to apologise if I've used strong language - because I meant that as a compliment to the Chronicle staff who made the effort to go back to provide the additional coverage rather than taking the easy route of erasing evidence of an error.

    That speaks volumes about how seriously you take your standards.

  4. Mr Wilson quotes a source close to the deal. Maybe the deal is done as he says and the brewery/jolly darity campaig/gareth epps are just upset because he has announced it before them?

  5. Hi Alex,
    I wonder, how much closer to the source Mr Wilson can get than the MD (Dave Maggs) and director (Karen Baum) who are directly responsible for their own company's negotiations?

    Clearly he not talking to them, so he should be prepared to name his 'source' so that they can take the correct steps against that person(s) for attempting to influence the deal.

  6. Hi there again Alex,
    I think the criticism of Mr Wilson was that his action in making the report at that moment in time put the deal at risk.

    Mr Wilson did not therefore show any sensitivity towards the tenuous nature of commercial negotiations and this contradicts any claims that any intervention he made was helpful.

    His involvement with campaigners has been minimal at best, so to say he was spearheading a popular campaign while not being in contact with the community is to leave a false impression.

    Is that the correct behaviour for a public representative?

  7. The posting by "A 'Source'" is a complete fabrication. I have been discussing this with those involved and have spoken to the owners.

  8. Wow, I can't believe Rob Wilson would do that! He seems so self-effacing and modest when I've seen him.

  9. Surely he should realise that in this day and age you can't expect to make erroneous announcements like this and not get spotted.

  10. 'Dave',
    until the parties involved in the negotiations publicly announce their decisions everything else is mere speculation.

    Feel free to speculate all you want, but don't expect to be taken seriously if you do.

  11. I think Gareth Epps now needs to eat his words :

  12. Alex M is a sockpuppet6 November 2009 at 13:03

    I say England will win the World Cup in south Africa, should I feel vindicated for being able to predict the future?

    With Fabio Capello in charge it is a sure thing - so get your bets in now!

  13. "Alex M" should be aware that the deal has not been signed. I have been asked to point out that negotiations remain ongoing, and a deal has not been confirmed.

    Oranjepan yesterday at 16:48 is correct. Not all parties have publicly announced otherwise regarding any 'deal'.

    However, the lifting of the restrictive covenant is still something to celebrate.

  14. Epps, you're a joke. Enough said.

  15. 'Alex M',
    further abusive behaviour of that kind will not be tolerated.

    Consider this a final warning.

  16. It's a pity "Alex M" and Rob Wilson will not respect the views of those negotiating over the future of the pub, preferring to put them in jeopardy for the sake of Tory party point-scoring.

  17. @Oranjepan - and 'Alex M is a sockpuppet' is not abusive?

    Are you and Epps one and the same?


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