A WAR of words over the building of an arts and innovation centre in Porthleven has boiled over after an employee of the developer was exposed as being behind a 'fake' Facebook account critical of those who opposed the scheme.

Sam Pace, a development manager working on the project for the owner of the Porthleven Harbour and Dock Company Trevor Osborne, used an account under the name Maxwell Holbourne-Chartres to comment on councillor Andrew Wallis' blog page.

She used the platforms to defend plans by her boss Mr Osborne and to attack the integrity of mayor of Porthleven mayor, accusing him of bias. The account holder claimed that Holbourne-Chartres' family were from Porthleven and that his grandmother still lived there.

Mr Wallis traced the Holbourne-Chartres alias back to Sam Pace after he noticed the email address used to post the comments on his blog matched one he had seen in a professional capacity.

'Outing' Ms Pace on the Porthleven Facebook group, Mr Wallis said: "If you are going to comment on my blog under different names or the same name when you use on Facebook, you really shouldn't use your own email account with your name on it.

"Therefore, Maxwell Holbourne-Chartres has another name. And that is Sam Pace. For those who do not know who Sam Pace is, she works for Trevor Osborne. And from speaking to her before, her family never came from Porthleven.

"Sorry Sam, but if you want to comment or troll me on my blog, or on here, you really should use your own name."

Once Mr Wallis said he had linked Ms Pace to the Facebook account, she drew the ire of other residents in the port who had offered help and friendship to Holbourne-Chartres' 'grandmother' who 'he' claimed lived in the village, and who they now viewed as being part of her cover story.

Sian Pilley wrote: "I feel violated and taken in and annoyed I took time to reply."

Responding in the comments section on Mr Wallis' blog, Ms Pace said she had accidentally posted in a friend's name, which was "a serious error in judgement," although she stood by her comments.

She wrote: "This post was made in a personal capacity, not as an employee of The Osborne Group.

"I would like to state that Trevor Osborne had absolutely no knowledge whatsoever of what I was doing, and I much regret the embarrassment that this has caused him and am horrified by some of the very unfair, and frankly defamatory, FB responses without the facts being fully known.

"Any opprobrium about this should be directed at me, not Trevor Osborne, or indeed any other members of his hardworking staff in Porthleven."

Asked for his response to the apology, which other commenters called "too little too late," and "just someone covering herself as she’s been caught out," Mr Wallis said: "I don't believe that."

He said: "They made no apologies to myself... nor do they make any apologies for making up a fake gran."

As well as having found Ms Pace's deception because the account for 'Maxwell H' was linked to her email address, Mr Wallis said he had also found other comments "linked to PR accounts," a number of which had done work for the Osborne Group before.

Although the Facebook account had made comments about him before which he had ignored, he said "this time it got really personal."

He added: "Not everyone agrees with you, and I don't have a problem with disagreement, but I do have a problem with people setting up fake accounts and trying to turn the public against me when I'm trying to protect our heritage."

While Mr Wallis has not yet considered whether he will take any further action, including legal advice, he said he hoped the "public humiliation" would be sufficient.

Mr Osborne dismissed the incident as a "storm in a teacup," and told the Packet that Ms Pace had acted without his knowledge or consent, adding: "It was not agreed, or consented, and I knew nothing.

"She recognises she made a silly error in doing it. She won't be associated with the project in the future, she won't be doing any of the work she's been doing in Cornwall."

Asked if any further action would be taken, he said: "Any further comment is between me and my employee."