MP and South Wales Argus lock horns over website comments

The editor of the South Wales Argus, Gerry Keighley, has defended his newspaper after Newport West Labour MP Paul Flynn accused it of censoring comments and bias in favour of the Conservative party.

Writing on his website, Flynn said that the paper had removed a comment claiming that the Argus would cover a story about Tory MP David Davies if he broke wind and that the Labour party would never get as much positive coverage.

The removed comment said: ‘What I do not understand is this sycophantic attitude that The Argus has towards Davies. Every pathetic utterance he makes seems to be covered in the paper. I fully expect a headline soon saying something like “MP passes wind after curry and calls for curbs on air pollution.”

According to Flynn the comment was removed from the website. He accused the paper of regularly removing critical comments and invited readers of his website to highlight comments that had been removed.

Speaking to Press Gazette, Keighley said the posting in question was taken down mistakenly and said that Flynn’s comments are part a long vendetta against the paper for dropping his political column 13 years ago, a claim Flynn denies.

Keighley said: ‘I certainly did not authorise this comment to be removed from the site. One comment was taken down mistakenly but to say this represents a change of policy is absurd.’He explained that, ‘we do take off comments that are ludicrous, obscene or unduly offensive or individual attacks on a member of staff implying they are doing things other than for professional reasons.

‘We ran a story about a sports stadium recently and there were around 30 comments strongly criticising us saying there wasn’t enough information and that we hadn’t got our facts right,’ Keighley added. ‘We certainly do not favour any politician over the other.”

Flynn said: ‘My column was dropped from the Argus in 1994. I have no antagonism at all. I just object to the editorial policy because they run it with a bias towards the right wing.”

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