ALTON’S three Labour councillors have resigned from the party over national leader Keir Starmer’s decision to write a column for The Sun.
Two of them – Stephen Dolan and Paula Langley – grew up in Liverpool, where the paper has been widely boycotted since its coverage of the Hillsborough disaster on April 15, 1989. The third, Gideon Cristofoli, is Paula Langley’s husband.
Four days after the crush which eventually killed 97 people, The Sun ran a front page falsely blaming Liverpool fans for the deaths.
Under its banner headline ‘The Truth’ were three sub-headings claiming supporters had picked the pockets of victims, urinated on police and beaten up police giving the kiss of life.
In the councillors’ joint statement, former Alton Labour group leader Cllr Langley said: “We feel we cannot support the current leadership after they have legitimised a newspaper that has frequently brought pain and suffering to many communities.”
In her resignation letter to Mr Starmer, Cllr Langley told him her views on The Sun.
She said: “As a Liverpool fan who lost a 17-year-old friend, what they did was beyond unforgivable. Imagine being part of that day and then reading this, printed as truth. Imagine you have just identified the body of your child or been a fan who gave CPR or tried to pull people up to the stands above.
“Imagine anyone willing to believe that you could behave like this whilst witnessing such horror. Imagine having to wait 28 years before anyone said sorry.
“It is because of this I am no longer able to stay in the party under your leadership because to me, your morality and integrity are forever flawed.”
Alton branch Labour Party secretary Ivan Mowse said: “We regret that Alton’s three Labour councillors have resigned from our party. We are grateful for the hard work that they have carried out for Alton and East Hampshire residents since their election as Labour Party councillors in 2019.”
All three are now Alton Independent Socialist councillors – Cllr Dolan for Alton Wooteys and Cllr Langley for Alton Eastbrooke on East Hampshire District Council, and Cllr Cristofoli for Alton Eastbrooke on Alton Town Council.