The Wicklow Times has posted a reward of €5,000 for information on a bogus organisation that launched a scurrilous attack on the local paper which has jeopardised the livelihoods of twenty-two staff.
Last Tuesday night emails were sent to advertisers and to national and local politicians from an organisation calling itself ‘Wicklow Litter Watch’.
These emails had attached photographs purporting to show bundles of Wicklow Times that had been dumped. The headline was ‘Thousands of Wicklow Times dumped in scenic beauty spot’. The message went on to say ‘If your ads appear in the dumped papers, Wicklow Litter Watch holds you just as guilty as the Wicklow Times.’
The message also included a copy of Wicklow Litter Watch’s emails to Wicklow County Council and to the Pure Project.
Upon investigation it transpires the papers shown in the photograph are from mid-February and had they been out in the elements since then they would be pulp.
Rather than ‘thousands’ there appear to be about 250 copies bound in bundles.
When contacted, the County Council said that they have never heard of Wicklow Litter Watch and have no contact details for any organisation by that name.
Ian Davis in the Pure Project, Wicklow Tidy Towns and the Councillors have never heard of Wicklow litter watch, there is no company registered as Wicklow Litter Watch, neither is there any business
name registered as Wicklow Litter Watch.
Shay Fitzmaurice, Editor of Wicklow Times said “This was a sustained and vicious attack by a bogus organisation who simply registered a Gmail account. They then sent e-mails to all our major advertisers. How did they
know their e-mail addresses? They didn’t simply send them to addresses from customers’ websites. They were directed to the correct person who had responsibility for advertising budgets.
One advertiser from Cork sent me back an email saying that he was perplexed as he only gives his email to media outlets. This campaign was carefully planned and executed and it took
time and money.
“My view is that it was a malicious attempt to slur the reputation of our paper, but to what benefit? Was it because Wicklow Times has for the past twelve years fearlessly exposed those behind the scandal of illegal dumping?
Or was it so that another media organisation could benefit from the damage sought to be inflicted on us?
“What is deeply concerning is where these bundles of papers came from. Like all newspapers we always have ‘overs’ that are kept in our storage in Bray or at the warehouse on the M50; but any paper that is put into circulation is colour coded. This identifies what town it was destined for and whether it was for door-to-door delivery or for a multi drop site.
“When I discovered that Wicklow County Council had these bundles of papers I sought their return so that I could examine them, but this was refused. I then asked permission to go and examine them at their premises, but this again was refused.
Why the Council would not co-operate with tracing an illegal dumping and thereby shelter a criminal activity by a bogus company requires some explanation.
“We will take appropriate legal action as soon as we identify who was behind this and in this regard we are offering E5,000 for any information that leads to a successful criminal or civil prosecution.”
If you have any information or can assist the Wicklow Times with their investigation, contact the Wicklow Times at [email protected].ie or call 01-2869111