Friday, 16 December 2011

So how easy is it to become a member of the NUJ?

In the past I've asked the NUJ how Derek Webb, the private investigator who spied for the News of the World on solicitors acting for phone hacking victims, became a member of the union.

A union spokeswoman said they could not discuss the matter because membership issues are covered by data protection legislation.

Here's what Webb told the Leveson Inquiry, as reported by the Independent:

Asked by Lord Leveson what he had put down on the form to join the NUJ, Mr Webb said: "I just filled in the basic details... I couldn't put down that I had any experience, so I didn't because I hadn't." He told the inquiry he had never written anything for the tabloid or been bylined in any story – but that he had followed a footballer's wife for a month. "It was hard work – she went everywhere," he said.

My understanding is that you have to be proposed and seconded by NUJ members, approved by a union branch and show you make most of your income through journalism before you get an NUJ card.

So how did Webb become a member? Who proposed and seconded him and which branch approved him?

Now Webb's explained how he became a member, shouldn't the union explain how it was allowed to happen?

UPDATE: Webb has resigned from the NUJ. A union spokesperson has told Roy Greenslade: "The union does not have the resources to check every single application form – that is why our rules ensure that prospective members have proposers to vouch for them.

"In practice, this is done in workplaces by our chapel representatives... if the News of the World had had a functioning NUJ chapel, its representatives and members would have known of Derek Webb's true involvement with the paper."

  • Pic: Sam Spade. Is he an NUJ member?

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