The NUJ is fighting to be given “core participant” status at the forthcoming Leveson Inquiry into media ethics after being turned down on the grounds that the union did not fit the right criteria.
Core participants have key rights such as being eligible for funding for legal costs and are able to submit questions to the inquiry’s counsel to put to witnesses.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said the union had gone back to the Leveson Inquiry asking for core participant status after being initially turned down and described it as "a work in progress".
She said the NUJ Parliamentary Group of MPs would also be applying for core participant status and the union wanted to ensure the views of its members would be put to the inquiry. She added that "ethics was at the heart of what we [the NUJ] do".
According to the inquiry's rules, core participants will have “played, or may have played, a direct and significant role in relation to the matters to which the inquiry relates”, will have had “a significant interest in an important aspect of the matters to which the inquiry relates” or “may be subject to explicit or significant criticism during the inquiry proceedings or in the report, or in any interim report”.
A number of newspaper groups; Gerry and Kate McCann; Chris Jefferies, the landlord of murdered architect Jo Yeates; former F1 boss Max Mosley; comedian Steve Coogan; and footballer Paul Gascoigne have all applied via their lawyers to become core participants in the inquiry.
Stanistreet was talking at an NUJ debate 'From Wapping to Hacking' last night in which she said the Press Complaints Commission had failed so miserably over phone-hacking that it "needs putting out of its misery".
But she warned: "Some people are clamouring for the licensing of journalists and journalism and that's not what we want."
Martin Moore, director of the Media Standards Trust, speaking at the meeting, said it would be surprising if the Leveson Inquiry did not lead to a new regulatory system for the press.
Moore added that the new system needs to be more transparent, more independent and more effective which means it will probably have sanctions.
"One of the things we are going to be doing throughout the inquiry is emphasising and working out ways to to protect public interest journalism and distinguishing that from privacy intrusion for commercial gain," he said.
- Today the Levesin Inquiry published its ruling on core participant applications.