Thomas Bridge 30 May 2014

Deputy leader suspended from party over bogus text spree

The deputy leader of Stoke on Trent City Council has been suspended from the Labour Party after sending messages to a local radio station under false identities.

Paul Shotton sent complimentary texts about the council and the Labour Party to BBC Radio Stoke, also using the messages to criticise political rivals.

Staff at the station are understood to have uncovered the ploy when a number of messages from the same number were sent under names including Steve, Dave and Alison.

Shotton has since apologised, saying his actions ‘were plain stupid’.

‘I will never do anything like this again,’ he added.

A Labour spokesperson said the party ‘takes these matters very seriously. Cllr Paul Shotton has been suspended pending an investigation’.

A BBC spokesperson said: ‘Audience interaction is an important part of our programmes and we read out texts from our listeners in good faith but are we reliant on the audience being upfront and honest about who they are.’

Stoke on Trent City Council’s deputy monitoring officer, Gerry Clarke, said: ‘We have been alerted to allegations made against the deputy leader of the council. On the basis of information that has been provided, the council will initiate a standards board process to enable the facts of this case to be investigated.

‘We understand an internal investigation is also being undertaken by the Labour Party, and it would therefore be inappropriate for the council to comment further until such investigations have been concluded.’

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