A Lichfield councillor who called for Lichfield Live to be stopped from operating says she was trying to make a point about the impact of online comments.
Cllr Sonia Wilcox made her comments about the independent website at a meeting of the council – streamed online – earlier this week.
She told the meeting:
“I have already said before that Lichfield Live is really damning on this council and I feel it really needs to be stopped.”Cllr Sonia Wilcox.
In a statement since a formal complaint to Lichfield District Council was made by Lichfield Live, Cllr Wilcox claims she had been trying to make a point about the “impact” online comments can have.
“I am really sorry for any upset or confusion caused by my comments at full council.
“I was trying to express my sympathy for Cllr Brown’s situation and make the point that people’s lives are affected by comments made online, in this instance in response to a story covered by Lichfield Live, which can have a serious consequence for the individual concerned.
“While I accept councillors, as public figures, are up for scrutiny, I do not think people who comment understand fully the impact this has on their families and loved ones and the distress it can cause.
“On reflection, I can see that in the heat of debate my comments appear to blame Lichfield Live for the comments that were made on their site, and I apologise if this has caused the journalists that run and contribute to the site any distress.
“It was not intended as a slight on their professionalism or the accuracy of their reporting.
“I do not wish to prevent freedom of speech, but I do ask that everyone considers the impact of their comments on the individuals and the families of those who represent their communities.”
We agree wholeheartedly that people who make online comments should be mindful of the impact their words can have. Cllr Wilcox has our full backing on that point.
And while we welcome the fact that Cllr Wilcox has recognised any attempt to silence a local media outlet is completely unacceptable, we are disappointed that her statement primarily seeks to justify her comments rather than apologise for what was a wholly inappropriate address to the council and those watching the livestream. It also fails to address some of the false and damaging comments she made.
We are pleased that Lichfield District Council is continuing to investigate our complaint in relation to the local authority’s own code of conduct and look forward to hearing the outcome of this.