The Returning Officer: Blackburn Spy

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In 1885, Frank John Holloway started the Blackburn Spy. A Mr Stirrup knocked him down at Sudell Cross the following year but was fined just a shilling, after pleading “great provocation”. The Burnley Express commented, “It was cheering . . . that one can knock down a newspaper editor for such a trifling sum.”

In February 1888, the tea shop proprietor Thomas Carlisle was summonsed by magistrates for beating up Holloway. The Spy had published a story about a “shop man, Mr Congo” of Carlisle, a “popular female heartbreaker”. Holloway denied that Carlisle was the subject and refused to say who had contributed the article. Carlisle was fined five shillings and told not to take the law into his own hands. 

This article appears in the 17 September 2015 issue of the New Statesman, Corbyn's Civil War