NUJ says government must meet lobby to reconsider changes to briefings which could hamper press freedom
6 January 2020
The NUJ has called on Downing Street to meet the chair of the lobby to discuss changes, made without consultation, to how its briefing system will now be conducted, as it will disproportionately affect local papers and small press organisations, and is ultimately a threat to the freedom of the press.
The new government administration has moved the briefings from the House of Commons to Downing Street. But Christopher Hope, lobby chair and Telegraph chief political correspondent, has warned this will make it harder for journalists to attend briefings. He also raised the concerns of colleagues over moves to ban mobile phones from the meetings. Editors of small press organisations have said it will make it much more difficult for them to attend the briefings. Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:
“This decision to move the briefings from Parliament to Downing Street will make it more difficult, particularly for local papers and small press organisations to attend the briefings. The chair of the lobby has raised concerns that this will make lobby journalists’ jobs harder. Downing Street must consult with those reporters affected as this sends out a very worrying message to the press at the start of the new year and a new government. Proper discussions are needed so Westminster journalists can continue to do their jobs, holding government to account, without impediment.”