Earlier today, Cllr Barbara White (Labour, Redbridge) made a public allegation on our Facebook page that Southend News Network had made ‘racist slurs’ – the allegation was made during the course of an exchange of comments over a ‘news article’ that we posted entitled ‘Kosher butchers forced to start selling bacon in landmark legal ruling.’ As we are about to explain, we asked Cllr White to explain this allegation on FOUR separate occasions, but at the time of publishing this statement no explanation has been provided. The full comment thread on Facebook can be found here.

On Tuesday morning, Cllr White used her official Redbridge Council email address to send the following message to our newsdesk.

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In the usual style of Southend News Network, we sent a jovial response regarding the popular attitude/misconception that residents of East London and the surrounding areas are responsible for all of the rubbish that is left on the beaches in Southend – our offer was rejected.

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We then advised Cllr White that we would put her complaint to our own followers on the Southend News Network Facebook page to see if it should be taken down – the entire Facebook post thread can be seen here.

We are not going to reproduce the many, many comments on here, but at a later stage Cllr White posted a comment that directly alleged that Southend News Network had made ‘racist slurs’ – an allegation that we strongly deny.

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As far as we are concerned, we have made NO RACIST SLURS whatsoever, and we feel that this is backed up by the contents of the entire Facebook thread that we have linked to. Southend News Network is a satirical/spoof/joke site, and we do not have a policy of making any sort of remarks that would be considered racist, anti-semitic, or pejorative in any way, shape or form.

We should also point out that Cllr White responded to childish criticism of her own last name by making a similar comment about one of our own readers with the surname ‘Butt’.

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In the Facebook thread, it is clear that we have asked Cllr White to explain this remark on FOUR occasions, and we also gave advanced warning that failing to provide this response would result in an official statement being made – our 7pm deadline passed with clarification on this matter in spite of Cllr White still actively posting elsewhere on the thread.

We find it ridiculous that not only did Cllr White use an official Redbridge Council email address to make this request in the first place, but also that she continued to make an allegation of ‘racist slurs’ on our part that could be considered ill-judged at best and even defamatory at worst.

Let us make our position perfectly clear. If Cllr White does not retract this clearly inaccurate comment, we will be making a formal complaint to both Redbridge Council and the headquarters of the Labour Party, and we have also sought legal advice on this matter.

Satire is one thing, potentially defamatory statements are something else entirely.