Labour councillors ordered: don’t speak to journalists

Odd news from Liverpool, where Labour council leader Joe Anderson has taken such exception to local media coverage of a leaked document relating to the council’s controversial interim Chief Executive appointment that he,

Has ordered all Labour councillors and council officials, including the press office, not to talk to either newspaper. (Liverpool Echo]

A press office that doesn’t speak to journalists? That’s about as useful as saying a press conference is a private meeting.

A curious twist is that the leaked document was legal advice from Cherie Blair, which the council claims was subsequently contradicted by further advice given to it by … Cherie Blair. To add to the confusion, local newspapers have pointed out that when they contacted the council about the story before running it this second legal advice was not mentioned at all.

As a result, the Press Gazette reports, two local newspaper editors have said:

We still await and would welcome evidence that this second document exists.

There are serious questions about the way the interim Chief Executive appointment was made but it did make me smile to see the last paragraph of the Liverpool Echo’s story:

When asked to confirm or deny that Cllr Anderson had ordered the council not to make comment to the two newspapers, a council spokesman declined to comment.

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