Council chief suspended over bogus texts spree

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A deputy council leader has been suspended from the Labour Party after he used fake names to send a string of texts to a local radio station praising the authority.

Paul Shotton contributed to debates on BBC Radio Stoke both supporting Stoke-on-Trent City Council and criticising the opposition over a period of six months.

But staff at the station rumbled the councillor after he sent text messages from the same mobile number under names such as Alison, Jean and Dave. He also pretended to be from different areas of Stoke.

Mr Shotton admitted sending the texts on Thursday and will now face a council standards board hearing.

He said: “I apologise fully for my actions. They were plain stupid. I will never do anything like this again.”

The Labour Party has also launched an investigation into the incident after suspending the councillor.

A spokesman said: “The Labour Party takes these matters very seriously.

“Councillor Paul Shotton has been suspended pending an investigation.”

BBC Stoke presenter Tim Wedgwood recently warned listeners that DJs at the station can see the phone number of people texting the station.

A BBC spokesman said: “Audience interaction is an important part of our programmes and we read out texts from listeners in good faith but we are reliant on the audience being up front and honest about who they are.

“In this case, we became suspicious after recognising the phone number and then referred the issue to the council.”