‘Cull’ comment on Aspiring MP’s blog reported

EDDC's Knowle HQ. Ref shs 7705-15-12SH Picture: Simon Horn

EDDC's Knowle HQ. Ref shs 7705-15-12SH Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

A parliamentary candidate’s blog has been reported to the police after a comment on one of her posts called for a ‘cull’ of all Tory councillors.

District councillor Claire Wright was criticising the Conservative-led authority’s announcement it was ditching its move to SkyPark when one of her readers added his thoughts.

She deleted the comment when asked, but Tory whip Phil Twiss reported her to the police, claiming she had broken the Malicious Communications Act 1988 – but her supporters have leapt to her defence.

East Devon District Council (EDDC) last week announced proposals to change its ‘preferred’ relocation destination.

It had been looking to move from Knowle into state-of-the-art, purpose-built offices in SkyPark but now looks set to split its staff between Exmouth and Honiton.

Cllr Wright, who is vying to become East Devon’s MP, criticised the authority for spending taxpayer cash on the project in a time of austerity and making many of its decisions behind closed doors.

And when her reader spoke up, Cllr Twiss slammed it as ‘threatening, appalling and distasteful’ and called on his colleagues to condemn her for allowing it to be published.

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Cllr Wright deleted the terse comment, but revealed in another blog post that the Tory whip has since reported her to the Devon and Cornwall Police cyber crime unit.

A spokesman for the East Devon Alliance campaign group said Cllr Wright had attracted widespread support for ‘allowing decades of public concern over elements at EDDC to be expressed’.

It called on Tiverton and Honiton MP Neil Parish to admonish Cllr Twiss, his former election agent, for a ‘criminal waste of police time’.

Other supporters said that ‘cull’ is in common parlance in political circles and ‘nobody imagines them being chased across grouse moors with shotguns’.

Cllr Twiss told one voter who claimed he had overreacted that it was ‘better safe than sorry’ when dealing with threats of violence.

He said the police had confirmed that reporting the post had been the right course of action and added:“I make no apology for this apparently uncompromising position.”