* UPDATE – the council reversed its position at lunchtime today.
A nine year old girl who ran a blog to raise cash for charity has been told by her school to take it down after local council bureaucrats demanded it be censored.
Martha Payne’s blog NeverSeconds, which is about school dinners, has had more than two million hits and raised at least £2000 for charity – and had been praised by Jamie Oliver.
The blog was based on Martha taking photographs and reviewing her school’s meals.
Despite the blog’s success, the local council Lochgilphead, Argyll, has banned her from posting pictures on her blog because it did not like the negative publicity. It is not clear what their PR department was smoking when they decided this, because censoring a nine year old for speaking her mind in an articulate and reasoned way is about as image enhancing as sticking your head under a steam roller.
Nick Nairn, another celebrity chef, has waded in saying that the council’s moves were “incredibly short-sighted” and the decision reminded him of something that would happen in China.
According to the Daily Telegraph, the council is starting to face a Twitter campaign and has drawn support from Mike Russell, the Scottish Education Minister, who said the decision was “daft” and he would be asking the council’s chief executive to overturn it.
Martha, who goes by the online name “Veg”, said that she was taken out of her maths class by her head teacher and taken to her office.
She was told that she could not take any more photos of her school dinners because of a headline in a tabloid about her blog.
Martha said she was sad that she could not snap pictures of her school dinners and could not raise enough money for a kitchen for the charity Mary’s Meals either.
While some of the pictures did not make the food look that great, Martha marked her last school meal 10 out of 10, so she was not just ripping into the food all the time.
Martha, who wants to be journalist, started posted the series of pictures as part of a school writing project. The project was done with the backing of the teachers.