Police called after Tory 'cull' comment

PUBLISHED: 15:23 06 December 2014

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A parlimentary candidate for Exmouth and East Devon has been reported to the police after a comment on one of her online posts said 'cull all Tory councillors'.

On her website, district councillor Claire Wright, who is challenging for MP Hugo Swire’s seat next May, criticised the Conservative-led authority’s announcement it was ditching its move to SkyPark when one of her readers added his thoughts.

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

Last week, East Devon District Council (EDDC) cancelled proposals to move their Sidmouth HQ to SkyPark in favour of the cheaper Exmouth/Honiton move.

Cllr Wright blasted EDDC 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.

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

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’ and 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’ with threats of violence, and said the police confirmed reporting the post had been the right course of action: “I make no apology for this apparently uncompromising position.”

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