False rumours about Romford trouble spread rapidly
PUBLISHED: 09:00 15 August 2011 | UPDATED: 09:55 15 August 2011
»As Havering residents feared for their safety on Monday and Tuesday night, many stayed inside and took to the internet to find out what was happening, but false rumours spread rapidly – with an elected councillor even giving incorrect information.
Basildon councillor, Allan Davies, tweeted that a shop in Romford was on fire, without crediting any source for his information.
When contacted by a Recorder reporter asking him if he knew which shop, or had any evidence for the claim, the former Labour parliamentary candidate for Basildon and Billericay, did not reply and later removed his message.
It had been open for any member of the public to see – and was re-tweeted by at least two other users.
Cllr Davies said: “All I did was relay news from someone else. It was a spur of the moment thing, my colleagues in Romford had said it was happening; I took my friend’s word for it.
“I wasn’t aware that it was a false report at the time, I’ll have to be more careful in future. There were fires in Romford but it wasn’t a shop on fire.”
He added: “I apologise to anyone that may have been following me that thought a shop was on fire.”
Many other users of social networks had been claiming that Primark in Romford was on fire throughout Monday evening, as well as other rumours – such as the looters planning to head to the town on Tuesday.
Havering Council slammed false information in a statement on the events. It said: “The council is working very closely with Havering police to share information and to prevent any future incidents in the borough. The information circulating on social networking sites is very often wrong or exaggerated.”
Archant London, the Recorder’s publishers, operated a live blog on the London24 website on Monday and Tuesday to keep people informed of the true situation. Many users praised it for the amount of accurate information provided.
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