Local weekly refutes racist accusations

A weekly paper in West Yorkshire has been reported to the police over an allegation that it has incited racial hatred.

Dewsbury-based independent paper The Press has outraged the local Kirklees Racial Equality Council by its reporting of an incident involving Iraqi refugees.

But editor Danny Lockwood said: “This isn’t about race; it’s about crime and that’s what our paper always says.

“We don’t care about racial background, we care about criminals and victims – but we seem to be a lone voice.”

Matters came to a head two weeks ago when there were incidents on three successive days involving a group of Iraqi men living in the Ravensthorpe district of Dewsbury. On the third night a group of up to 15 Iraqis were involved in a fracas at a pub which left two young local white men with stab wounds and a third, Lee Massey, in critical condition after being run over – allegedly by members of the gang.

Lockwood said: “It didn’t amount to more than a line on the police news wire and didn’t get on the local TV news. It didn’t surface as a story until The Press revealed how long that trouble has been going on.”

The following week Lockwood wrote an opinion piece in which he said: “The police investigating Lee’s case have been more worried about placating the natives and throwing a media blanket over the nationality of culprits than they have of catching them.” A letter sent to West Yorkshire Police by Jamil Akhtar, from Kirklees Racial Equality Council, said of The Press: “Although it advertises itself as independent, it is making itself a pedestal for the BNP and its supporters and the articles, especially the editorials, are calculated to stir up racial hatred and strife.”

Referring to the incident involving the Iraqi refugees he said: “The paper has done all it can to stir up the sense that this incident was racially based.”

Lockwood said: “This area is a tinder box because of dangerous people like the Racial Equality Council who are beating the race drum and stirring up trouble in an area that really doesn’t need it.

“Ever since we launched 20 months ago we have been trying to provide a forum for common sense debate. “Our pages provide an equal platform for all views and I will be taking Jamil Akhtar’s letter of complaint and placing it in a prominent position in the smallest room in the building.”

By Dominic Ponsford

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