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NUJ condemns petition calling for Andrew Neil and Laura Kuenssberg to be sacked

21 January 2016

The NUJ has condemned a petition run on 38 Degrees Campaigns by You calling for journalists Andrew Neil and Laura Kuenssberg to be sacked as an attack on press freedom.

The campaign, created by Anna Harwich, accused them of trying to manipulate the news by inviting Stephen Doughty, the shadow foreign affairs minister, to announce his resignation on the Daily Politics show. The campaign says: "It is crucial that the reporting of news should be both fair and impartial. The BBC has badly tarnished its reputation and urgently needs to do something to try and restore it."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"Calling for journalists to be sacked for doing their job is farcical. This was a legitimate story any journalist would have wanted to run on their show. You cannot run witch hunts against journalists just because you don't like the news they report.

"In the same way we supported journalists – at the BBC and elsewhere - who were attacked on social media by people from both sides of the argument on independence during the Scottish Referendum, we will not tolerate people who try to suppress legitimate news coverage.

“Should Andrew Marr and journalists on his show be sacked for allowing Squeeze to hit the headlines and make David Cameron squirm in the process when they changed their song lyrics to attack him for being ‘hellbent on the destruction of the welfare state’? Of course not.

"There’s a big difference from licence fee payers pointing out when their believe journalists get their facts wrong, or making complaints about perceived bias to the BBC via its normal channels and calling for individuals to be sacked. It’s daft to suggest that the BBC’s reputation was tarnished by journalists being first to report on breaking news and we condemn those individuals who are making personal attacks on journalists or trying to shut down the press's right to publish and broadcast the news."

A spokesperson from 38 Degrees said:

"38 Degrees does not support this campaign, however it does not break our terms and conditions. People are entitled to have their say."

Tags: , broadcasting, bbc, andrew neil, Laura Kuenssberg, 38Degrees, press freedom, pres freedom, censorship, daily politics, andrew marr, social media