Society of Editors condemns Russian banning of top UK journalists

Posted on: June 15, 2022 by Claire Meadows

The Society of Editors has “vehemently condemned” the decision by Russia to ban a number of top UK-based journalists in response to what it described as the “deliberate dissemination of false” information related to Russia and its invasion of Ukraine.  

The announcement that a number of UK journalists and defence figures would be barred from entering the country as part of sanctions came yesterday (14 June 2022) and includes well-known reporters included the BBC’s Clive Myrie, Sky’s Stuart Ramsay, Channel 4’s Cathy Newman and journalists and senior figures from The Telegraph, The Mail, The Times, The Guardian, the FT and ITV.

Commenting on the barring, Dawn Alford, Executive Director of the Society of Editors described the accusation that UK journalists had deliberately disseminated fake news in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “ludicrous”.

She said: “Since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, UK journalists have reported the facts fairly and accurately and have put their lives at risk to do so.

“To accuse British journalists – and editors of national titles including the Telegraph, The Times, the FT, the Mail and The Guardian – of engaging in deliberate dissemination and bias in relation to their coverage of Ukraine is ludicrous. 

“The Society of Editors vehemently condemns this blatant attack on press freedom by Russia which is nothing more than a deliberate attempt to avoid scrutiny and accountability. UK journalists will continue to report on the war in Ukraine without fear or favour and the industry will never waver from telling the truth and accurately reporting the facts.”

A number of UK news organisations have also commented on the decision to ban members of their staff from entering Russia. 

A Guardian spokesperson said: “This is a disappointing move by the Russian government and a bad day for press freedom. Trusted, accurate journalism is more important now than ever, and despite this decision we will continue to report robustly on Russia and on its invasion of Ukraine.”

A Telegraph spokesperson said: “The Telegraph is proud of its reporting of the invasion of Ukraine and regrets attempts by Russia to restrict press freedom”.

The Society of Editors is a campaigning industry body for editors, journalists and leaders in news media – it supports, promotes and champions the universal right to freedom of expression, the public’s right to know, press and broadcasting freedom, diversity and inclusion in the media and high editorial standards.

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Photo: BBC broadcasting house in London