LAST week I took the decision to starve a far-right extremist group of publicity ahead of yet another ‘demo’ march through the streets of Rotherham.
I continue to refuse to reference the small-time antagonists which descended upon us last Saturday, in order to starve them of the attention they crave, and so will not name them.
These people do not have Rotherham’s 1,400 child sex abuse victims at heart. In fact, they’re a selfish rabble hell-bent on wreaking political havoc in the streets of a town in which Star readers live and work.
Of course, once the protest was in full swing, I had a duty to my readers to inform them of what was happening on their doorsteps, and so reported live from the streets on our website and on Twitter before anyone else got close. That’s what we do, but under no circumstances would it be responsible for The Star to throw petrol on the far-right fire by publicising their posturing ahead of time.
I’d make the same call time and time again.
One Keith Allen challenged my decision as I refused to apologise for my decision last week in my own editorial column: ‘that’s why I got stuck in a frightening situation in Firth Park’, he said.
Well, with all due respect, Mr Allen it really isn’t. The reason you were stuck in a frightening situation in Firth Park is not because of my insistence upon responsible editing of South Yorkshire’s biggest newspaper.
I suggest you write to the ring-leader of the aforementioned tub-thumpers who took it upon themselves to add to the £2m-plus policing bill racked up by others of their ilk marauding through our patch.
But...for all of my conscientious editorial decision-making, I also absolutely defend these groups’ right to have a say.
Many readers will see today’s page one story by Chris Burn - yet another in a long line of his brilliant pieces of local journalism relating to the Rotherham child sex abuse scandal - and think: ‘here we go again. The police and the council can’t stand people disagreeing with them, and so they turn into insufferable bullies by invoking big brother powers that stifle anyone whose view differs to theirs.’
Using the Public Order Act to shut protestors up will, for many people, look like an extension of the cover up that has shamed South Yorkshire. But like the protestors, I will not go quiet on this, no matter what!
by James Mitchinson