Councillor used pseudonym to praise own work

A councillor came under fire today for using a pseudonym to praise his own work.

Ben Grower posted comments under several aliases on the Daily Echo's website.

But the newspaper in Bournemouth, Dorset, decided to name and shame the councillor after he posted praise for himself under the name Omegaman.

In one post about plans to build Europe's first artificial surf reef in Boscombe, the Labour councillor wrote: "At least two councillors seem to be concerned about this mess. Well done Cllrs Ratcliffe and Grower."

Other comments praised him for fighting a housing plan and, concerning the expansion of a dentist's surgery, he wrote: "Just shows that the area does have councillors who care about their residents.

"Well done Ted Taylor, Ben Grower and Beryl Baxter."

Mr Grower refused to comment on the allegations but sent an email to colleagues admitting he had been writing under aliases for some time.

He said many other councillors did the same thing and that he had never written anything offensive but only did it to have "a good laugh online".

The long-standing councillor said in his email: "As far as I am concerned this has and always will be a legitimate means of making comments.

"It is perfectly legitimate to use pseudonyms as indeed many others do."

Investigations showed Omegaman was registered with an address containing Mr Grower's name.

He initially denied being the author, saying it could be anyone, even Santa Claus, but later admitted it to the newspaper and said he would carry on but would use a different pseudonym.

Leader of the council's Liberal Democrats, Claire Smith, said it was deceitful.

"It's a little bit sad to say the least but it does have serious connotations," she said.

"Things like this cannot happen or the trust breaks down between councillors and members of your ward."

The Daily Echo said in a statement online: "The Echo does respect its readers' right to anonymity but we felt that when a councillor pretends to be somebody else to improve his reputation that it is of sufficient public interest to tell people about it."