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Haydn Jeavons
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    Haydn'S BLOG

    The mysterious case of the cat in the bag 29 Jan 2020

    It has been an interesting afternoon at Time 107.5.

    Damian White has gone from saying “It’s quite clear that it is not my voice” to accepting he was wrong and apologising.

    We’re used to having the leader of Havering Council come on Time 107.5. It happens once a month (outside of election periods) and has for many years. 

    Prior to Cllr White being leader, Roger Ramsey would regularly answer questions. And the leader of Barking and Dagenham Council as well as local MPs also make time to come in and answer questions from our listeners.

    They can answer questions as they see fit, but when we feel factually incorrect statements or outright lies are being made, whether intentional or accidental, we will challenge them.

    I stood in the studio with Cllr White, our presenter Mark Dover, and a member of the council’s communications team – standard procedure for an interview with any council leader – and we watched the footage in question. 

    Even when watching it with us, Cllr White was adamant that it was not him saying “nearly let the cat out the bag.”

    The statement we have received from Havering Council since the interview aired appears to suggest Cllr White does not understand that he was talking about his “cat” comment and that he was answering about alleged vote-rigging.

    But that does not tally up with the conversation we had with him, where he regularly alludes to the video and repeatedly denied saying the comment in question.

    The comment in itself is not that noteworthy. However someone who saw it jumped on the comment and questioned what it meant.

    Cllr White could quite easily have acknowledged that he said the phrase and said the information he was referring to can not yet be released publicly.

    But to instead deny making the comment, despite the overwhelming evidence that he had, is absurd. If he is willing to lie about this, it brings into question whether or not he can trusted to tell the truth about other, more important matters.

    Before his dramatic climbdown, Cllr White was very strong in his view that Time 107.5 should apologise to him after I called him a liar. 

    It is disappointing that he couldn’t even admit himself that he was wrong. The statement acknowledging that came from his deputy, Cllr Robert Benham. 

    I feel sorry that Cllr Benham was put in that position.

    People are still very curious about what Cllr White meant when he said the cat was nearly out of the bag.

    Time 107.5 was aware that an announcement was possibly going to be made about a very specific issue at the meeting last Wednesday. We even had a story ready to publish on our website when it was said.

    But no such announcement was made and it is understood it may happen in February’s meeting instead.

    Due to the ongoing sensitivity around the subject, and the lack of clarity we have received in the last week, we are not able to reveal what announcement we were expecting. But multiple sources told Time 107.5 it would be big news that would be well-received by residents in Havering. 

    Hopefully, there will be some good news we can share next month instead.

    Thank you to the many, many listeners who have contacted Time 107.5 today to thank us for the work we do in holding local politicians to account.

    Finally, I would like to say thank you to Mark Dover. He does a fantastic job of questioning politicians and I’m glad I was able to support him today in getting the truth out of Damian White.

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