NeverSeconds blogger Martha Payne school dinner photo ban lifted

A controversial ban preventing a nine-year-old girl from photographing her school meals has been lifted following a storm of protest on the internet.
Martha Payne, from Argyll, got more than two million hits on her NeverSeconds blog in just a few weeks.
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 told the BBC he had instructed senior officials to lift the ban immediately.
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.
The schoolgirl had been using the blog - which she started with the help of her father Dave - 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.
Charity blog
"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."
An explanatory note posted on the blog by her father read: "I contacted Argyll and Bute Council...and they told me it was their decision to ban Martha's photography.
Photo of Martha's school lunch Martha gave this cheeseburger a health rating of just 2/10
"It is a shame that a blog that today went through two million hits, which has inspired debates at home and abroad and raised nearly £2,000 for charity is forced to end."
Mr Payne later told BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland programme his daughter was not happy about the council's decision.
He added: "I understand that it's brought pressure from around the world and media interest, but that is really out of our control.
"But we are very supportive of the school - the fact that she has been encouraged to blog and she got permission to do this is testament to them.
"Everyone in the kitchens has been wonderful to Martha and she enjoys going into lunch every day."
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.
Job fears
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver tweeted: "Stay strong Martha" before urging his 2.3 million followers to retweet the message to show their support for the schoolgirl.
Argyll and Bute Council later issued a statement defending its position and claimed media coverage of the blog had led catering staff to fear for their jobs.
It added: "The council has directly avoided any criticism of anyone involved in the 'never seconds' blog for obvious reasons despite a strongly-held view that the information presented in it misrepresented the options and choices available to pupils.

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It is a good thing to do, to change your mind, and I have certainly done that”
Roddy McCuish Argyll and Bute Council Leader
"However this escalation means we had to act to protect staff from the distress and harm it was causing.
"In particular, the photographic images uploaded appear to only represent a fraction of the choices available to pupils, so a decision has been made by the council to stop photos being taken in the school canteen.
"There have been discussions between senior council staff and Martha's father however, despite an acknowledgement that the media coverage has produced these unwarranted attacks, he intimated that he would continue with the blog."
Cleland Sneddon, the executive director of community services at Argyll and Bute Council, told the BBC that school catering staff had been left "in tears" by press coverage.
However, Mr McCuish later told the BBC Radio 4's World at One programme that he had instructed senior officials to lift the ban immediately.
He said: "It is a good thing to do, to change your mind, and I have certainly done that."
Mr McCuish said he had not yet been able to inform Martha of the lifting of the photo ban, but had a meeting arranged with her father next Thursday to discuss "a way forward".
'Dinner summit'
He said the council had been concerned about criticisms of dining hall staff in an article about Martha's blog in the national media, but accepted that it should have raised the issue with the newspaper concerned rather than taking action against the schoolgirl.
"I don't know what went wrong yet, but I will do my very best to find out," he said.
"I hope, come the summer, we will have a way forward, like a school dinner summit which will take place this summer."
Martha had been raising money through a Justgiving page for the Mary's Meals charity, which helps feed some of the poorest children in the world.
Publicity caused by the ban helped her smash through her £7,000 target - with total pledges of almost £20,000 being made by Friday afternoon.
The total stood at only about £2,000 on Thursday evening.
A Mary's Meals spokesman said: "Martha's support for Mary's Meals has been amazing and we are extremely grateful for everything that she has done to help us reach some of the hungriest children in the world.
"We are overwhelmed by the huge response to her efforts today which has led to so many more people donating to her online donation page.
"Thanks to this fantastic support, Martha has now raised enough money to build a kitchen in Malawi for children receiving Mary's Meals as part of our Sponsor A School initiative and has broken the record for hitting a Sponsor A School online fundraising target in the quickest amount of time".
Among the pictures Martha published on her blog was one featuring her £2 lunch of a pizza slice, a croquette, sweetcorn and a cupcake.
Martha wrote: "I'm a growing kid and I need to concentrate all afternoon and I can't do it on one croquette. Do any of you think you could?"


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