OnTheWight received a phone call last Friday from the father of Sandown quads who, following them all being accepted to university, appeared on the front page on the Isle of Wight County Press on 16th August 2013.
Steve Chard shared his frustration with OnTheWight about an article written by Charlotte Hofton in this week’s paper, that he felt was insulting and mocking towards his offspring.
A flurry of objection to Ms Hofton’s attempt at humour at the expense of four hard-working young people swiftly made its way onto Twitter.
This morning Mr Chard has sent this letter below to share with readers. We also contacted CP editor, Alan Marriott, to ask for his response to the claims. You can see his comments beneath Mr Chard’s letter. Ed
I’m sending this following our telephone conversation regarding the article by Charlotte Hofton, which, in my opinion, is poking fun at my children.
I was a very proud father of the quads pictured on the front page of the County Press two weeks ago, celebrating their A-level results.
Staged by CP photographer
The picture was staged and taken by Robin Crossley a photographer from the County Press to give the readers a feel good factor and sell a few more papers (very necessary given the falling circulation).
One week later the feeling in the household goes from ecstatic to distress on reading the rant from Charlotte in her column “The view from here”.
Personal attack on my children
In my opinion a personal attack on each person highlighted by the cheap shot, such as “Samantha and Michael, well one cannot understand how they even got to university with such a lack of competitive spirit”.
Does she know them? Does she know anyone who does?
If we go by newspaper pictures to form opinions of their academic achievement then I wonder how Charlotte Hofton is able to read or write.
Told to “get a life” by CP editor
After phoning to complain to the County Press the editor called back and told me that I had no sense of humour and ought to get a life.
I replied that we had been contacted by several people complaining about the article to which he replied that “you’re a liar”.
A sad case of jealousy
I think that even as a parent of the four, plus a son about to start his last year at university, that I know how to motivate people far more than this hack writer who is suffering from a sad case of jealousy.
The County Press should learn that encouragement in the success of our youth on the island is more important than cheap pathetic points scoring.
County Press editor denies accusations
OnTheWight got in touch with editor of the CP, Alan Marriott outlining the accusation made in Mr Chard’s letter.
Mr Marriott denies telling Mr Chard to ‘get a life’ or that he called him a liar. He told OnTheWight,
“Charlotte’s column was a light-hearted piece poking fun at this newspaper’s use of a tried and trusted school exams picture (and yes I know we should try harder to be original!).
“She did have a little poke at the Chard quads for not being enthusiastic in their leaping but I felt her comment that ‘one cannot understand how they even got to university with such a lack of competitive spirit’ to be so obviously tongue in cheek that nobody could have taken offence. Obviously I was wrong.
“Charlotte’s is a Marmite column (love it or loathe it) but she spreads her opinions with a broad brush, and on more than one occasion I have been on the end of her jibes myself. As for Mr Chard’s claims about our conversation, I did not call him a liar, not did I tell him to ‘get a life’.
“However, our conversation did become a little heated and he may wish to reflect on some of the things he said during it.
“I am not prepared to make public what I considered a private chat.”
In February last year (2012), Charlotte’s ‘Marmite’ column, this time targeted at an Isle of Wight councillor, Cllr Ian Stephens, was seen as sufficiently offensive that it led to a “Sincere and Unequivocal Apology” from the editor of the paper – quite a turn around.
Rumours of legal action might have encouraged that climb down.
The full text of Charlotte Hofton’s article can be found on the Isle of Wight County Press Website