PUBLIC SECT0R: PCC rejects Taylor's 'spin doctor' complaint

The Press Complaints Commission has thrown out a council's PR chief's bid to stop a local newspaper referring to him as a 'spin doctor'.

The complaint, lodged by East Riding of Yorkshire County Council head of communications Simon Taylor against the Bridlington Free Press, is believed to be the first of its kind by a PR professional.

Taylor took the action following an article which appeared in the summer highlighting his 20 per cent pay rise from £45,000 to £55,000 and referring to him as a spin doctor in the headline.

Taylor believes the use of the phrase defamed his character. He also submitted to the Commission that the article was misleading for linking his pay rise to the national issue of council workers' pay, and that by revealing his salary the paper had not respected his privacy.

All counts were rejected by the Commission. In relation to the spin doctor complaint the Commission said: 'The Commission did not see any great discrepancy between the term spin doctor and the name and position held by Mr Taylor, given the fact that his job had a public relations focus.'

Taylor said: 'I don't have any regrets. I strongly feel that the use of "spin doctor" is derogatory for the same reason that to call a doctor a quack would be.'

He also says that he has no regrets about the decision to take on the paper and has since spoken to the editor, 'to ensure it has no impact on our professional relationship.'

He also feels justified in his complaint over revealing his salary details, as he felt it put his and his family's personal safety at risk.

He has already received a number of threatening phone calls from residents on the issue, which echoed a public outcry to the £36,000 pay rise for CEO Daryl Stephenson earlier this year.

In April 500 residents marched through Beverley in protest over that pay rise.

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