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Editors call on PM to review lobby changes

Posted on: January 13, 2020 by Mariella Brown

An open letter signed by every national newspaper editor as well as several prominent regional and broadcast editors has been sent to the Prime Minister this morning calling on Mr Johnson to address concerns over the newly introduced system for Westminster lobby correspondents.

Organised by the Society of Editors, the letter calls on the PM to assist in opening consultation on the new lobby arrangements between Number 10 and the media after changes were imposed at the start of the new year. 

In his letter, executive director of the Society of Editors Ian Murray explains how many editors are concerned the new arrangements, which force lobby correspondents to leave Parliament and travel to Downing Street for the twice-daily briefings, will hamper coverage of open government.

Correspondents now have to negotiate the Downing Street security system before attending the briefings held at Number 9 Downing Street and cannot take mobile phones.

In his letter, countersigned by the editors of every national newspaper as well as prominent regional and broadcast journalists, Murray asks that assurances be given that the new system will not be used to deny individual correspondents access to the briefings.

“While the industry welcomes moves by the government to provide access to more of the administration’s advisors, there are real concerns the changes in their present form will hamper the workings of a free press,” said Murray.

“I would hope that a government that has spoken of supporting a free press and freedom of expression will be prepared to consult further on how the lobby system can be changed without damaging the important role the media has in scrutinising the workings of Parliament.”

Download the letter to read in full: Letter to the Prime Minister

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