NUJ calls on council to call off media ban threat
13 April 2017
The National Union of Journalists has written to the leader of a council which has been accused of trying to act as a press regulator.
Seamus Dooley, NUJ acting general secretary, has voiced concerns to Rob Gledhill, the Conservative leader of Thurrock council, over a new communications policy which says that journalists who do not sign up to an approved regulator will be barred from the press bench, as will those who fail to ensure right of reply or “reflect the council’s position accurately”.
Those deemed to have contravened the new rules will lose recognition as a journalist or media organisation for a period of time determined by the council. John Kent, Thurrock Labour leader, said:
“This is nothing more than a thinly veiled attack on the press and seriously threatens free speech. It runs alongside increasing frustrations by my fellow councillors and members of the public in getting answers from the council. We will be fighting this.”
In the letter, Seamus Dooley said: "Members of the NUJ sign up to the union's code of conduct which says journalists will strive "to ensure that information disseminated is honestly conveyed, accurate and fair". Therefore I ask you to endorse the union's code of conduct and to reconsider any part of your new strategy which restricts press freedom. Your readers need to know that they are being served by an unfettered press."