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Gloucestershire Business News

An apology to Paul James

Punchline would like to apologise to Paul James and his family for certain comments in its recent article about Marketing Gloucester.

In the article we called into question Councillor James in a way that could damage his reputation, that was never our intention.

Paul James has served the city for more than two decades and as leader of the city council for 12 years until November last year.

He has been at the forefront of the city's regeneration over the last decade or more and we would in no way want to detract from his good work, too long to list here.

The article in question covered the on-going fall-out following two reports into the council-owned arms-length company, Marketing Gloucester.

Those reports outlined concerns about the company's governance, scrutiny and its financial position.

Our report following a full meeting of Gloucester City Council, attended by a Punchline reporter on January 30, was published on January 31 at around 1pm and amended later that day.

Our report stated that at the meeting, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Hucclecote, Declan Wilson, declared that two 'whistleblowers' who had raised concerns over the running of the company back in 2014 were "treated terribly."

In the meeting, Paul James confirmed to fellow councillors that as non-executive chairman of the company he did not deal with the 'day-to-day running' of Marketing Gloucester's finances.

Prior to the council meeting, Punchline met with Paul James and put questions to him about historic e-mails relating to expenses and figures for Marketing Gloucester and bank statements for the company.

In our article we questioned Cllr James' answer to the council meeting given what we understood to have been said earlier in the day.

We were wrong to do so. The emails we had seen were from a number of years ago.

We did not show the emails to Cllr James and it was unfair to expect him to remember or comment upon them in these circumstances.

The bank statements we saw were also from a number of years ago. These were addressed to Marketing Gloucester's offices and have no relevance to the current situation.

If our reporting appeared to question Cllr James' honesty and integrity and suggested impropriety on his part, we apologise unreservedly.

In regard to amendments made to the story, we are happy to put those on record now to avoid any confusion.

We would like to clarify that it was the city council that the whistleblowers reported their concerns to and not Paul James, and that it was Marketing Gloucester that hired Heather Resource Management Ltd to conduct the investigation.

Punchline said in the article that the whistleblowers were still fighting to see the report "despite documents seen by Punchline appearing to show the report upheld their concerns".

While the whistleblowers have still not seen the report, Punchline is happy to retract the latter part of the sentence.

Paul James has been an outstanding servant to the city of Gloucester and its people for nearly a quarter of a century.

He has championed the city and played a leading role in the magnificent regeneration that has occurred in recent years. He continues to do so today.

It was never our intention to single him out for criticism or accuse him of impropriety and we apologise again for any distress and damage to his reputation that our report may have caused.

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