Wigan councillor loses appeal against fly-posting conviction

Coun Paul Maiden
Coun Paul Maiden

A Wigan councillor has lost his appeal against a conviction for fly-posting.

Paul Maiden – who runs Mad Dog PR promotions – had been found guilty by magistrates earlier this year in relation to six posters advertising three music gigs in the town.

The CCTV images disputed by Coun Maiden

The CCTV images disputed by Coun Maiden

An appeal hearing on Tuesday upheld the decision and the independent representative for Hindley Green has been ordered to pay extra costs of £900.

Coun Maiden denied putting up the posters and told the court he was working as a ‘fixer’ between the bands and venue rather than as a promoter.

He said he did not stand to gain financially from attracting gig-goers and he now did much of his advertising on social media.

In relation to one of the gigs, he made a loss of hundreds of pounds, and was winding down his music-related activities in a wider sense because of health problems, he added.

CCTV images disputed by Coun Maiden

CCTV images disputed by Coun Maiden

The court was shown CCTV footage that showed an individual fix a poster to a phone box in the Smithy Green area of Ince.

Council enforcement officer Karen Roberts said the person resembled Coun Maiden in terms of his ‘build, height and gait’ and that she ‘believed it was him’.

Joshua Bowker, representing Coun Maiden, argued the ‘poor quality’ and ‘blurry’ nature of the footage was such that it was not possible to make a positive identification.

Coun Maiden maintained it was not him and emphasised that none of the six posters made any reference to himself or Mad Dog Promotions.

The proceedings at Bolton Crown Court – presided by Judge Martin Walsh – were told adverts for the gigs, some ‘similar’ to the physical posters, were used by Coun Maiden on the company’s social media account.

David Birrell, representing Wigan Council, said the councillor is deemed responsible for the physical posters as they gave publicity to either his ‘goods, trade, business or other concerns’, as part of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990.

This submission was accepted by the bench, who also heard Coun Maiden had received a fine last year in relation to previous fly-posting charges.

The legislation offers a statutory defence if the accused can show – on the balance of probabilities – that the advertisements were published without their knowledge or that they ‘took all reasonable steps to prevent the display or, after the advertisement had been displayed, to secure its removal.’

Judge Walsh said the evidence put forward in support of Coun Maiden’s case did not meet that requirement and the appeal was dismissed.

He referenced the social media advertisements, a lack of documents submitted to the court detailing the agreements between the parties and Coun Maiden’s role in ‘negotiating’ the gigs on behalf of the venue and bands.

Magistrates had initially ordered the independent councillor to pay a £600 fine, costs of £500 and a surcharge of £30.

The appeal costs of £900 have been added to that total.