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Bogus Stafford mayor in storm over Twitter trickery

Staffordshire | News | Published:

It reads like a typical week for the mayor of Stafford – cutting the ribbon at Alton Towers, cheering on competitors in the half marathon and congratulating the eldest resident of Doxey on her birthday.

But this is in fact the fictional life of 'James Billington' the bogus online mayor of Stafford who has sparked controversy after duping people on Twitter into believing he holds the prestigious ceremonial role.

The spoof account has prompted a storm at Stafford Borough Council with bosses demanding San Francisco-based Twitter delete the account after a complaint from Shrewsbury Town Council.

The real mayor of Stafford is Councillor Angela Loughran who does not even use Twitter.

It came after the hoax mayor tweeted: "Sharing a meeting with the mayor of Shrewsbury today. Never liked him. Reminds me of one of the bad guys from Superman 2."

But not only did this provoke a complaint from the council, who appear not to have checked whether the account was genuine, but also saw a backlash online.

Kevin Tanner ?@kevtan1066 said: "What the hell? If this is a joke, in very poor taste! If it isn't you should resign now!"

The mayor of Shrewsbury Jon Tandy did question the the comments.

He tweeted: "Never had the pleasure of meeting @mayorofstafford . Surprised by his tweet today. Maybe he was hacked or mistaken?"

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In another post, he tweeted Staffordshire theme park Alton Towers: "Looking forward to opening/attending @altontowers tomorrow! Britain's best theme park in great #Staffordshire".

The Walter Mitty-esque character later posted a picture of himself, with a mayoral chain, cutting a tape at Alton Towers over the weekend as if he was opening the attraction.

Councillor Loughran, said: "Nobody minds a bit of fun on social media but it is unacceptable that this person is purporting to be the mayor of Stafford and making disparaging remarks about another mayor. This is bringing the mayoralty into disrepute."

What do you think? Harmless fun or unacceptable? Have your say in the comments below.

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