Cllr Victor Southern, Tory Leader of Swanley Town Council

Defamatory Statement

On Thursday 7th June we received the following email, titled: Defamatory Statement.

The Secretary, Swanley Labour Party

Your website still holds an article which states Accused Tory Guilty of Editing Wikipedia. This refers to me by name and alleges that I made certain amendments to the Wikipedia page on Swanley on 7thDecember 2016. As I have pointed out I did not make those amendments.

On 7th December I was seriously ill and an ambulance crew was called to my home twice that day. On 9thDecember I was admitted to Darent Valley Hospital with pneumonia and remained there for 11 days. I can produce documentary proof and witnesses to all of that. I have no idea who made the amendments nor do I have any idea how they could be attributed to me.

Publication of outright lies does not fall within the ambit of permissible political dialogue. I require you to remove the offending article completely within 5 days of the date of this email. Failing in that I shall instruct solicitors to proceed against you and the local party branch for relief and punitive damages.

Victor Southern

This was a perplexing email firstly, because it concerns an old article, published in December 2016, over 550 days ago.  Secondly, Victor Southern replied to the article, shortly after it was published, in the comments section at the end of the article, stating that while he admitted he made the first edit, he denied making the second edit, even though it was also done in his name.

Cllr. Victor Southern stating in comments section of article that he made one amendment but not the second.

Clearly here Cllr Southern states: :

I did make the other entry but well before December 7th.

This conflicts with his statement in the email that he did not make “certain amendments”. To our mind this edit is also the most serious.

By his own admission then, Cllr Southern says he made the first amendment, so clearly we did not lie.  It is also important to note that both Wikipedia edits were done under the name of VSouthern, according to Wikipedia records. (Link here: https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Swanley&diff=753543837&oldid=749670281)

We are prepared,though, to take in good faith Cllr. Victor Southern’s insistence that he did not make the second edit, and amend our article accordingly.

We would suggest that he devotes his energies into finding out who made the other edit in his name, rather than threatening legal action against our website.

One possible explanation of Cllr. Southern’s email was that he had been involved in a heated exchange with a resident at a Swanley Town Council Meeting the previous night, Wednesday 8th June.

A resident, who has nothing to do with Swanley & District Labour Party,  asked a question about whether any councillors or employees had any interests in the green belt land around Beechenlea Lane, where there was an expression of interests to build houses. Cllr Southern stated:

“I, I, err, I need to reply to this, this really very important matter. If I was aware that any councillor was profiting financially in any way whatsoever  I would take this matter to the police. It is as simple as that, and I think I know everything that goes on. And it is an imputation which myself and my fellow councillors resent hugely. “

The resident stated that “Unfortunately there are rumours-“ at this point Cllr Southern interrupted the resident, raising his voice his said:

“I am not interested in rumours. I have just told you sir! I won’t stand for these imputations. You are accusing us of participating in an illegal conspiracy.”

We do not know if this bad tempered exchange influenced Cllr Southern to send us his threatening email. We can state that we will not allow any party or individual to intimidate us, and prevent us from bringing vital local news to the residents of Swanley.

By David Carr
Swanley & District Labour Party
Social Media Officer

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