Neverseconds blogger beats Argyll Bute Council over censorship ban

A ridiculous ban by Argyll and Bute Council preventing a nine year old girl from photographing her school meals has been lifted following a storm of protest on the internet.Martha Payne (Veg to her followers) from Argyll has now recorded more than six million hits with 2,368 comments on her NeverSeconds blog.

Argyll and Bute Council said press coverage of the blog had led catering staff to fear for their jobs. But council leader Roddy McCuish later said that he had instructed senior officials to lift the ban immediately.

The schoolgirl’s father, David Payne, who helped her set up the blog, welcomed the decision. Martha Payne’s father, David: ”The ban was disappointing”

Martha began publishing photographs of her Lochgilphead Primary School lunches on 30 April.

She gave each meal a ‘food-o-meter’ and health rating, and counted the number of mouthfuls it took her to eat it.

She had been using the blog to raise money for the Mary’s Meals charity.

But in a post published on Thursday evening, Martha said her headteacher told her not to take any more photographs for the blog.

Under the headline “Goodbye”, the post stated: “This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office.  I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today.”

The council’s decision to impose the ban came after the Daily Record newspaper published a photograph of Martha alongside chef Nick Nairn under the headline “Time to fire the dinner ladies.”

By Friday morning, the council’s decision had sparked a furious reaction on social media.

Local MSP Mike Russell, Scotland’s education secretary, tweeted he would be writing to the council’s chief executive in his capacity as local MSP, calling for the “daft” ban to be overturned.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver tweeted: “Stay strong Martha” before urging his 2.3 million followers to retweet the message.

However some good has been generated by the blog- Martha’s Just Giving page has now raised enough money to build several kitchens in Malawi for children receiving Mary’s Meals.

Publicity caused by the ban helped the schoolgirl smash through her £7,000 fundraising target for the Mary’s Meals charity – with total pledges of £85,431.63 being made by this evening.

The total stood at only about £2,000 on Thursday evening.