Council denies attempt to ‘silence the press’

Milton Keynes Council
Milton Keynes Council

Milton Keynes Council tried to “silence the press” to kill off a story it didn’t like, according to a senior councillor.

At a public meeting last week, former council leader Andrew Geary shamed the authority for using taxpayers’ money to file a complaint to the Independent Press Standards Organisation.

“This was a grotesque waste of money. Has freedom of speech gone out the window?”

Andrew Geary, former leader of the council

It followed the Citizen being threatened with legal action from the council press office after exposing a recommended pay rise for councillors.

This was proposed in the same week council tax was increased, free black bin bags were scrapped and a new £140,000 post created – a move that enraged residents.

Mr Geary said: “I find it amazing that the Labour-led council would willingly use taxpayers’ money to pursue the local media while having to spend thousands reprinting their own publication of LiveMK because they didn’t proof read it correctly.

“Perhaps a case of getting your own house in order before trying to correct others.”

Geraldine McIlwaine, interim head of council communications, yesterday confirmed the council was backing down over the issue. She said: “No one has in anyway tried to silence the press.

“The complaint raised is about day to day procedure and practice, and about checking facts with the press office.”

Mr Geary added: “This was a grotesque waste of money. Has freedom of speech gone out the window? Just because they did not agree with the newspaper, does not mean they should take them to court. I can’t help think they are trying to silence the press.”