Earlier today, Inside Croydon posted a response to my post of yesterday morning.
I am happy accept the gracious apology that has been offered - and the offer of a pint of ale in a Croydon public house - and so far as I am concerned, the matter is now closed. I also acknowledge that - the claims I referred to in my last post apart - the coverage of my work on Inside Croydon has been perfectly reasonable: sometimes the site has criticised me and sometimes it has praised me. On this occasion, I felt a line had been crossed - a number of claims were being made that were factually untrue and, if not withdrawn, very damaging to my reputation (I was being accused of having committed a criminal offence). But unless such a line is crossed, it is important for politicians to have a thick skin. Freedom to disagree, to criticize, even to ridicule are important elements of our democracy.
I am also happy to accept Steven’s word that he is not an activist for any political party and to apologise for any offence this may have caused to him or the Labour Party and for the mis-spelling of his name.
He asks for clarification on one point: he accepts that my campaign didn’t receive any donations from Lord Ashcroft personally or from any company in which he has an interest but asks whether we received any money from any funds established by Lord Ashcroft specifically to assist Tory candidates standing in marginal seats? The answer in relation to the General Election campaign ie the period from 1st January 2010 to polling day is no. We did receive some money from Conservative Campaign Headquarters shortly after my selection in early 2008. Since Lord Ashcroft donated money to the Conservative Party during this period, you could argue that on a pro rata basis £30-40 of this money came from him. That’s the limit of it.
Steven may also wish to be aware that the accounts of local political parties are publicly available on the Electoral Commission’s website.