SIR – RE the article, Mayor: I wasn’t asking councillor for a fight (February 26).

As the councillor to which the mayor directed this challenge (a recording of this can be heard on the city council website occurring some 7–8 minutes into the council meeting), I find it very interesting that the Worcester News is happy to quote the mayor’s denial but at no time was I approached to comment on the incident.

What is even more surprising is that the article, regardless of whether the mayor’s offer of “see me outside” was intended as a physical threat or merely a verbal challenge, doesn’t comment on the appropriateness of the mayor’s behaviour and whether it is fitting of his office.

It is clear that the mayor acknowledged that his behaviour was at best crass and at worst stupid as he felt the need to offer an apology – yet the Worcester News makes no comment about his behaviour.

In stark contrast the same paper was only too keen to use the front page (not the bottom of page 10) to call for Mayor Cllr Alan Amos’s resignation in articles of June 16, 2014 and July 4, 2016. 

A cynic might think that the Worcester News has political bias, any reader would definitely assume sloppy journalism, either way the mayor’s behaviour was simply not acceptable.

Mayor Cllr Riaz, a former Conservative councillor who swapped parties when he was not offered a safe seat, has run his mayoral campaign on a banner of “Love not Hate”, yet felt that it was perfectly acceptable to “offer me outside” during a full council meeting of which he was chairing, and the Worcester News does not believe that this behaviour is worth comment. 

Well I do, and I hope the people of Worcester see this action as Mayor Cllr Riaz in his true colours!

Chris Mitchell

Councillor St Clement

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Our report was on the Worcester City Council meeting during which Cllr Riaz made the “see me outside” comment. It was during that meeting that Cllr Riaz apologised for any misunderstanding regarding his remarks and clarified that he was not challenging Cllr Mitchell to a fight, just to speak to him outside, and Cllr Mitchell – again, during the meeting – accepted Cllr Riaz’s apology.

Thus, the Worcester News did not approach Cllr Riaz for a comment on the matter after the meeting, we simply reported what was said during that meeting. Similarly, we did not approach Cllr Mitchell after the meeting.

Legally, and ethically, a newspaper’s report of a council meeting should be factual and unbiased, not contain ‘comment’, as Cllr Mitchell puts it, on the journalist’s view on the behaviour of an individual councillor. Any articles which express a journalist’s personal opinion are clearly marked as columns or opinion pieces.

Regarding the articles on Cllr Alan Amos in 2014 and 2016, the Worcester News was reporting on calls for him to resign by fellow councillors. The Worcester News itself was not calling for Cllr Amos to resign, we were simply reporting that some councillors wanted him to go. Nobody has called for Cllr Riaz to resign as mayor due to his comment in the meeting. If they did, the Worcester News would report that.

Cllr Mitchell appears to be confused by the difference between the Worcester News reporting the opinion of others and the newspaper’s own opinion.

He may be interested to know that all the main political parties have accused the Worcester News of bias against them at some point – Conservatives, Labour, Lib Dems, Greens and UKIP – perhaps a sign of our impartiality?

Michael Purton

Editor, Worcester News