Unrepentent “Ratesgate” councillors have refused to apologise and have demanded the Examiner apologises to them.
Two of the four Labour councillors embroiled in the council tax non-payment scandal have lashed out at this paper after we revealed their payment problems.
Clr Amanda Pinnock was revealed to have needed four reminder letters and two court summons before she paid her council tax bills worth £1,149.77.
Before the information was officially released, The Examiner was tipped off that she was one of the Ratesgate culprits and rang her to confront her.
She denied it on the phone.
But two weeks later Kirklees Council revealed she was one of six councillors who had fallen into arrears to the point of being threatened with court action.
The council said Clr Pinnock settled her debts before a court hearing was needed.
Following the story she posted on Facebook that the Examiner was “racist”, despite the story exposing councillors from a range of backgrounds who had failed to pay the tax.
Clr Pinnock, who is a solicitor for charity Fusion Housing, specialising in housing law and debt recovery, has now issued a statement which she demanded was not edited by the Examiner.
She said: “All too often the Huddersfield Examiner appears to character assassinate black people without the facts and not on good authority.
“On or around May 10 I received a telephone call from the Examiner’s office asking me if I was in arrears with my Council Tax and as I am not in arrears with my Council Tax I truthfully said no.
Examiner reporter Nick Lavigueur speaks about the councillors below
“The arrears reported on in the Examiner are historic and were cleared up quickly without any court case or court appearance.
“It is untrue that I lied to the Examiner and somehow this needs to be fixed.
“I hear all too often from people within the black community that their local newspaper smear names and embellishes the truth.
“That the Examiner appears to highlight stereotypes and negative images of the community.
“The Examiner will sensationalise black issues and seldom promotes positive ones throughout the year. These are the words of people within the black community.
“The response I received from my social media post was phenomenal both publicly and privately about people’s views on the Examiner.
“As a representative of all communities I am raising this as a concern.”
Meanwhile, a second councillor, sacked former Deputy Leader, Clr Jean Calvert, has also demanded an apology from the Examiner.
Clr Calvert was asked twice, by different Examiner journalists, if she was involved in the scandal and only admitted to having a reminder.
But when the information was revealed by the council it turned out she had received five reminders and two court summons in between April 2014 and March 2016.
The two summons followed her well publicised court case for voting on council financial matters while more than two months in arrears on her own council tax account, a breach of the Local Government Finance Act.
Clr Calvert was acquitted at a hearing at Bradford Magistrates Court in January 2014 after the judge accepted she had no knowledge of the law.
Despite the official information, revealed by Kirklees Council lawyers, proving she was the worst culprit, Clr Calvert has demanded the Examiner apologises to her.
In an email to the Examiner, she said: “I did not deny having a summons and that wasn’t the question asked and again I say i did not lie and so you was (sic) wrong to insinuate I lied.”