This is the email I have received this morning from Takki Sulaiman, Director of Communications at Tower Hamlets council, in response to my post regarding Ted Jeory being thrown out of a Tower Hamlets council meeting last night.
Dear Mr Baynes
No one should be called a pr**k for performing their duties. As the Prime Minister said yesterday respect is an abiding British value – unless you believe journalists should be exempt from notions of courtesy?
My staff member was seated because she is disabled and it was when I pointed this out to Mr Jeory – in response to his tweet – that he called me a pr**k.
Mr Jeory performs a valuable service in the borough but his conduct today was uncalled for. If a member of the public behaved in a similar way to a non staff member we would have faced calls for action and rightly so. It is a perverse argument to suggest that because I am a senior member of staff I should somehow accept abuse.
Mr Jeory was not ‘seated at the back’. Not only was he late for the meeting but journalists were emailed twice about reserving seats for tonight. Mr jeory did not respond – although he says the email was not received so I will check our records in the morning.
We have a busy public gallery and two rows were kept empty tonight – we only released them at 7.30 when no one turned up.
Tower Hamlets council – sorry, the residents of Tower Hamlets – pay Mr Sulaiman £100,000 a year and all he can come up with is this? Not good value for money.
Doesn’t seem as if he has met many journalists in his career, I have met lots and while they are mainly good people their ‘notions of courtesy’ are at times somewhat lacking. Indeed most journos would consider it only good manners to verbally abuse a close colleague before buying the next round.
But then that is the world outside the Town Hall.
Ted Jeory himself says: “I regret my choice of word. Four letters would have been enough.” A sentiment that any right minded person in the East End would agree with.
Pr**k bad, perving good
It’s also interesting to see that Mr Sulaiman considers that ‘No one should be called a pr**k for performing their duties’
Maybe people in the public gallery at Town Hall council meetings are exempt from notions of courtesy as they hurl homophobic and sexist abuse at Councillors? Just asking.
Thinking about this issue of exemption from notions of courtesy it may well vary depending on the political beliefs of the person whose levels of courtesy are in question.
For example someone who supports Tower Hamlets First / Independent / Respect Party / whatever they are called on Thursdays party can say what they like.
Anyone else? Different rules apply.
I am of course reminded of the time when Cllr. Alibor Choudhury (Tower Hamlets First / Independent / Respect Party / whatever they are called on Thursdays party) stood up in a council meeting and accused Love Wapping of ‘perving’. In case you missed it you can see the video here.
But that’s OK Mr Sulaiman isn’t it?
It’s noticeable but no surprise that Mr Sulaiman makes no reference to the real issue of him attempting to restrict the freedom of the press to report on what Tower Hamlets council gets up to.
Because the incident last night was nothing to do with Ted Jeory calling a spin doctor a prick. It was all to do with trying to draw the veil over Tower Hamlets council. And failing in a spectacular fashion.
Mr Sulaiman has previous for trying to shut Ted Jeory up. Why on earth does he think he will succeed this time?