The government must not cherry pick reporters for press trips, says NUJ Parliamentary Group

  • 20 Apr 2023

Complaints from titles excluded from a trip to Rwanda with the Home Secretary were followed up with the minister.

The government has denied taking favoured news organisations to cover the Home Secretary’s trip to Rwanda last month to promote her plans to deport asylum seekers to the country.

Grahame Morris, chair of the NUJ’s cross-party Parliamentary Group, wrote to Robert Jenrick, minister of state for immigration, following complaints by newspapers such as the Guardian, Mirror, Independent and i newspaper which had been critical of Suella Braverman’s policy and had been excluded from the trip to Kigali. Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner described her newspaper’s treatment as “chilling”.

Robert Jenrick said in his reply: “The range of media outlets accompanying her was wider than you suggest and, on balance, does not indicate exclusive favouring of outlets with a particular editorial agenda.”

In a written reply to a Parliamentary Question, the minister wrote: “Media outlets who accompanied the Home Secretary’s visit to Kigali on March 18 – 19 were BBC News, The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, The Daily Telegraph, GB News, Press Association, The Sun, The Times. There were also numerous outlets in the region who covered the visit.”

A report in the Press Gazette said “a crew of Africa-based BBC journalists did manage to report on the Rwanda visit but the broadcaster had not been initially invited and their journalists did not travel with the Home Secretary as did the UK-based teams who went”.

Grahame Morris said:

"Ministerial visits are paid for by the British taxpayer. Therefore, the government must be even handed in issuing invitations to the media, not cherry-pick only outlets likely to give them favourable coverage for deeply divisive policies. Why invite GB News and not the Guardian or the Daily Mirror unless it's an effort to use public funds for propaganda purposes?"    

‘Vanity project’: Braverman under fire for taking only rightwing press to Rwanda

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