Ride-on row as free-speech fan complains to a Hackney man’s employer about cycling views peddled on Twitter

Van©VincentStops2021
Christian©DA: © david.altheer@gmail.com Christian Wolmar, would-be Labour London mayoral candidate for 2016, arrives in Dalston Lon E8 to be interviewed by Loving Dalston 070514
Top: turn, turn, turn, but please, not willy-nilly over the cycleway (© Vincent Stops). Above: transport journalist Christian Wolmar (pic: © David Altheer).
Keen cyclist and individualistic social-media commentator Vincent Stops clashed with Wolmar

THE BRITISH PRESS has traditionally been a guardian of our liberties, especially freedom of speech. 

So it is surprising that a distinguished journalist has complained to a tweeter’s employer, a transport watchdog organisation, about some of the man’s tweets on cycle safety. 

One-time London mayoral candidate Christian Wolmar wrote to the body that employed Vincent Stops to ask about his contract.

Stops, who is also a Hackney councillor, had been at the same organisation for almost two decades. He took redundancy.

The ex-employer told Loving Dalston that it “made Vincent Stops redundant at the end of March 2021 as part of a suite of redundancies”. (There is no suggestion the redundancy was linked to any action by Wolmar.)

The complaint by Wolmar, a veteran transport commentator and a London Cycling Campaign trustee, about what he termed “a misuse of [cycling] statistics on a Trumpian scale”, said: “I would be very interested to know if this is something that is allowed under your employment terms and, if not, whether you will ask Mr Stops to desist from making these attacks.”

During a row about cycle safety measures in the Netherlands Wolmar said his fellow Labourite’s “latest effort… is clearly nonsensical — cycle lanes are not inherently dangerous and I am sure this is not a view that [the employer, unnamed for legal reasons] would want to share. 

“I hope that you can take action on this.”

Stops responded on his blog that his Twitter account expressed his own views and had never referred to his employer. He said: “I didn’t get a chance to debate [with] Mr Wolmar on Twitter as he did not seek to engage with me, preferring, instead, to seek to suppress my views via my employer.”

Cycleway©DA16: © david.altheer@gmail.com cyclist on unbarriered cycleway in Parkholme Road Dalston Hackney E8 heads for safety of the pavement 150216
Rather than ride against the traffic on an unbarriered cycleway in Parkholme Road, Dalston E8, this cyclist headed for the safety of the pavement. Below, a safe cycleway in Town Hamlets

Cycleway©DA17:© david.altheer@gmail.com in Shoreditch S of Hackney Rd Tower Hamlets, London E2 160317

Stops said Wolmar’s complaint led to his consulting a solicitor and his trade union before invoking a grievance process with the “public body that I had worked for, for 20 years and [which] had hitherto been supportive of my public role”.

Wolmar, asked by Loving Dalston about the right to freedom of expression, said that of course he believed in it but that if you worked for a transport organisation, publicly expressing different views was a problem. 

Wasn’t trying to close down a commenter a bit extreme? Wolmar replied: “I’m allowed to do that as much as he [Stops] is allowed to slag me off on Twitter. The employer had been concerned about his [cycle-safety] views as a policy officer before I complained. I was complaining that one of its employees had put out stuff that was against its policy.”

Daniel Moylan, a Conservative peer who chairs Urban Design London, tweeted that Stops had been subjected to “a low and sneaky attack “ and that Christian Wolmar “ought to know better”.

The National Union of Journalists code of conduct says the NUJ “at all times upholds… the right of freedom of expression”.

David Altheer 210621

* Backstory: One of Britain’s most most cycling-unsafe junctions is in Hackney; Public silenced as Hackney sound system failsWorld’s ‘most important buildings’ are in Hackney says councillorHackney cyclists demand segregated routesCycopathic? No bike path;

Pictures of van and Stops © Vincent Stops, others © David.Altheer@gmail.com. All available for sale via that eddress. Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink.

* Links to articles in The Guardian do not imply any approval of the newspaper’s historic involvement with slavery.

This site welcomes fair comments, including the critical. They may be edited for grammatical, legal or taste reasons, or for shortening. In the unlikely event that anything defamatory is posted, the sender’s details may have to be divulged. (Under UK law, this applies to any comment/discussion forum, eg, Twitter.) RSS feed link is at top right. Twitter: @lovingdalston Publicists, amateur and professional, should read http://bit.ly/ZnClKc Also relevant may be the note at the end of http://bit.ly/117GXmi Photographs © David Altheer unless otherwise stated and apart from supplied pictures

One thought on “Ride-on row as free-speech fan complains to a Hackney man’s employer about cycling views peddled on Twitter

  1. Stops is an utter hypocrite. Free speech? Debate? He regularly and relentlessly blocks people on Twitter who criticise him, in the same way that he tries to block cycling infrastructure in Hackney from his position as a councillor, while all the time pretending to be pro-cycling. The sooner he is removed from office, the better.

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