Weston Mercury cleared over billboard racial hatred claim

A weekly newspaper has been told it will face no action from police over allegations of inciting racial hatred with a billboard about a new gypsy camp.

Last week officers handed a file to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) over the Weston Mercury billboard – which read ‘Gypsies could be on your doorstep’– following claims by a local councillor that it was ‘inflammatory”.

But after receiving advice from the Crown Prosecution Service the police it would not be pursuing any action against the paper.

‘We are glad the matter has been resolved,’said a spokesperson for the paper. ‘We acted as quickly as we could to tackle the initial complaint and regret the fact that the police had to become involved.

‘We did everything possible to limit any damage the poster may have caused and we hope this will now be the end of the matter.”

The poster was placed outside newsagents across the circulation area of the Weston, Worle and Somerset Mercury and was reported to Avon and Somerset Police by local Green Party councillor Tom Leimdorfer.

At the time he said: ‘I was horrified when I saw it. It was clearly inflammatory. If the headline had been about black people or Muslims it would quite clearly not have been acceptable. So why should this be any different?

But after Leimdorfer was interviewed by police he said he did not wish to see the newspaper prosecuted.

The Archant title apologised and removed the billboard, admitting the wording of the poster was ‘inappropriate and may have caused offence”.

A spokesman for Avon and Somerset Police added: ‘Following advice from the Crown Prosecution Service, no further action will be police in relation to this matter.”

• To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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