Chronicle story sparks call for lie detector tests

Chronicle editor Butterworth: “The irony is there isn’t a mole”

A Shrewsbury Chronicle splash on local authority job cuts has led to calls for councillors and council officers to take a lie detector test to find who leaked the information.

The newspaper named top posts that were being axed as Shrewsbury and Atcham Borough Council tried to save £300,000 a year. Members of the council’s standards committee called the leak “despicable” and “detestable” and ordered the “mole” to be hunted down, according to the Chronicle’s sister paper, the Shropshire Star.

Councillor Danny Moore said he felt so strongly that he suggested officers be asked to “undertake a lie detector test to detect to what extent , if any, they were involved”.

The committee said it wanted council leader Peter Nutting to attend a meeting to say what he proposed to do to guard against further confidentiality breaches. It agreed to explore hiring a press officer and to write to the paper expressing its dissatisfaction.

There has since been an escalating row within the council about the use of a lie detector and what this would cost – around £85,000. Other councillors suggested the test was “a crackpot idea from the loony left”.

Nutting said: “I think Danny should resign over the issue. It’s so stupid, he should be embarrassed about it.”

Moore replied: “I should resign over wanting to explore possibilities of finding out the truth? Perhaps Councillor Nutting may have something to hide.”

Chronicle editor John Butterworth told Press Gazette: “We only named the top council people going, not all of them, because we thought people should be told what is happening about the jobs and that our readers have a right to know how their council tax money is being spent, if there are savings. Do our readers and council taxpayers want thousands of pounds being spent going after an alleged mole who leaked this story to us? The irony is there isn’t a mole. It was common knowledge amongst the council. One of the members had written an e-mail farewell to the staff. A lot of people knew about it.

“I’m totally against the idea of people having to take lie detector tests. The whole thing smacks of control, of the council trying to control letting news out only when they want and not letting news be news.”

By Jean Morgan

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