Councillor in the Eye of a storm
- Credit: Archant
The satirical magazine Private Eye has received an apology over allegations made by a Cambridgeshire county councillor at a town council meeting.
Tim Minogue, editor of the ‘rotten boroughs’ section in the fortnightly magazine, described as “nonsense” claims made by Cllr Mark Goldsack to the December meeting of Soham Town Council.
Mr Minogue says the information provided by Cllr Goldsack was “misleading”. He invited the clerk to circulate his response to all councillors ahead of last night’s meeting.
Cllr Goldsack told Monday’s meeting of the town council that “in my relatively short time in public, I have made some errors but one mistake.
“What I was told about Private Eye was told to me in good faith.
“When I doubled checked, I wrote to the town council and apologised and said that I was sorry.”
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Cllr Goldsack added: “It was the right and proper thing to do. Trust me, I am far more guarded now about what I share.”
According to the minutes of their December meeting, Cllr Goldsack told councillors that “Private Eye ran a small article in one of its editions.
“But being that every edition was constituted a private limited company which is closed (ceases to trade) on publication and the reason that Private Eye is almost never sued for libellous content”.
The minutes added that county council “legal officers agreed that there was no point in pursuing action against the publication”.
Mr Minogue says that this is simply not true.
“You must surely be aware that this is nonsense,” he wrote.
“Private Eye is published by Pressdram Ltd, a private limited company, number 00708923, which was incorporated on 24 November 1961. You can check these details online via Companies House beta, which is free.”
He told Cllr Goldsack: “Either you made this up, which would be reprehensible, or you have repeated something completely untrue without checking it.
“Either way you have seriously misinformed the councillors at Soham and the public.
“Perhaps you might consider checking your facts and letting Soham Town Council know that you were misinformed?”
Mr Minogue added: “Cambridgeshire County Council legal officers are correct that there is no point in pursuing legal action against the Eye, not for the imaginary reason you state, but because our story was true.”
The spat arose after Cllr Goldsack reacted to a Private Eye story claiming that a leak to the magazine about the council owned property company This Land Ltd was most probably by a disgruntled ex-employee.
He said the information published in the Eye contained “inaccurate and incorrect data”.
Minutes of the meeting report that “Cllr Goldsack was at pains to point out that as with Private Eye’s own incorporation arrangements, This Land Ltd whilst being wholly owned by, it remained a legally separate entity to, Cambridgeshire County Council”.
Cllr Goldsack then presented a list of achievements and the financial health of This Land Ltd (he is chairman of the council committee that has oversight of the arm’s length company).
The minutes conclude that his disclosures about This Land’s finances “answered the ‘noise’ being generated about this company which he considered as being ‘unwarranted, non-factual and quite frankly false’”.
And he added that “drawing of comparison to other authority-owned companies/businesses was not applicable as the circumstances, structure and objectives to This Land Ltd are ‘so very different’”.