Echo pledges support for'honourable' council chief

Echo: on trail of council leader

The Lincolnshire Echo has launched a campaign in support of a council whistleblower who it claims could face the sack for exposing corruption.

It has run a story alleging Lincolnshire County Council’s Tory leader Ian Croft was plotting to get rid of chief executive David Bowles.

The Echo reported that the council leader has written to the county solicitor to say that the administration has “no confidence” in Bowles and suggested the chief executive should be invited to resign.

Bowles gave evidence in the corruption trial which sent Croft’s predecessor as county council leader, Jim Speechley, to jail for 18 months.

Speechley was jailed earlier this month at Sheffield Crown Court after he was found guilty of misconduct in public life by trying to seek to influence the route of a bypass, with a view to personal gain.

His misconduct was exposed by journalists (Press Gazette, 9 April).

The Echo wants to know the reasons for the lack of confidence in Bowles and has questioned if it is motivated by revenge for him giving evidence at the Speechley trial.

Echo reporters have spent more than a week following the new council leader but he has refused to answer the paper’s questions ahead of a special meeting of the council which will discuss the chief executive’s future.

At one point an Echo reporter even used a megaphone to put questions to Croft after he declined to answer the door at his home.

Echo editor Mike Sassi said: “It’s a disgrace that an honourable man like David Bowles should be victimised for simply telling the truth. The least the Echo can do is offer him our support.”

Steve Jackson, PR manager for Lincolnshire County Council, said the Echo had been offered an interview with Croft on 15 April, with other members of the media, but had declined because its local government specialist was on holiday.

“We have not risen to the Echo’s campaign. There is a special meeting of the council on Friday (30 April) when the issues will be debated and discussed,” said Jackson.

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