Council Yields to Mounting Internet Pressure, Lifts School Lunch Photo Ban Placed on Child Food Blogger

Nine-year-old Martha Payne of Argyll, Scotland, became an overnight sensation after her school lunch review blog NeverSeconds managed to convince her school to start serving students healthier meals.

But, as anyone who rattles cages soon learns, the Powers That Be aren't big on being bossed around by the little guy.

In a blog post published last night entitled "Goodbye," Martha announced that she had been banned from taking photos of her school lunches.

"This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office," she wrote. "I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today."

The headline "time to fire the dinner ladies" had appeared in the Daily Record above a photo of Martha and celebrity chef Nick Nairn. According to the council, this sparked termination fears among the lunch staff, which led to the decision to ban Martha from photographing her food.

"I only write my blog not newspapers and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos," Martha continued. "I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I'll miss seeing the dinners you send me too."

Martha's father, Dave, added a few words to the post elaborating on the ban. "I contacted Argyll and Bute Council when Martha told me what happened at school today and they told me it was their decision to ban Martha's photography," he wrote. "It is a shame that a blog that today went through 2 million hits, which has inspired debates at home and abroad and raised nearly £2,000 for charity is forced to end."

On the BBC Radio program Good Morning, Mr. Payne said he was surprised by the council's decision, since Martha's lunch reviews have been stellar of late. "I can see that the photographs at the start didn't look the most appetising, but Martha marked the last school meal 10 out of 10," he said.

Support for Martha has been flowing in through Twitter and other social sites. An early champion of her cause, Naked Chef Jamie Oliver, tweeted "stay strong Martha," and asked his followers to retweet the message.

An even stronger tweet of support came from the Scotland's Education Secretary Mike Russell, who also happens to be the Argyll and Bute MSP. "I have made it very clear to the Council Chief Executive that I believe the ban should be lifted immediately," Russell tweeted this morning.

The uproar worked: The council lifted the ban, effective immediately. "I have just instructed senior officials to withdraw the ban on photos from the school dining hall," council leader Roddy McCuish told the BBC. "It is a good thing to do, to change your mind and I have certainly done that."

[photo via JustGiving]