Chipping Norton disowns the set that made its name

Residents of Chipping Norton have expressed their anger over the association between the sleepy town they affectionately call "Chippy" and the "Chipping Norton set".

The set comprises a group of political and media élite who have made the area their home, many of whom are now at the centre of the phone-hacking scandal. Rebekah Brooks and David Cameron, whose Witney constituency is nearby, are among them.

Gerry Alcock, a former councillor, has become increasingly annoyed about the link between his town and the scandal, arguing that those implicated have little or no contact with its people.

"We would much rather they were called the Witney set, because in fact it would be much more accurate geographically," he said yesterday. "The fact that the town is being associated with these characters is very worrying. There is a danger people will associate Chipping Norton with these kind of spivvy deals that we have been hearing about."

Keith Ruddle, 61, a resident and volunteer at local newsletter, the Chipping Norton News, has also expressed his anger over the tarnishing of his town's name. "The triangle of the Camerons, the Brooks and the Freuds don't live in our parish – they are in big houses out in the sticks," he wrote in a letter to a newspaper.

"They are welcome to visit our delightful town – indeed Mr Cameron is seen regularly in and out of Sainsbury's, and is a good constituency MP, but please don't label Chippy alongside other associated unpleasant traits."

Mr Ruddle even went so far as to offer Rebekah Brooks a job at his publication, with the proviso: "No hacking, no blagging – only honest amateur sleuthing, as polite and as balanced as possible – we don't want bricks through our windows."

Many residents of the town yesterday showed little interest in the goings-on of the powerful cabal. One dismissed the notion of the Chipping Norton set entirely. "It is just an accident that they live here. They are normal people who just happen to live in the same area," they said.

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