Guardian editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger has backed the idea of a conscience clause in work contracts to protect journalists from being sacked if they refuse to do journalism which is unethical.
Asked today at the Leveson Inquiry if he supported a conscience clause, Rusbridger said he did and that he thought there was "unease" among a lot of journalists at the News of the World about what was going on at the paper.
He said there ought to be a way for journalists to say that unethical jobs did not fit with their professional code or conscience.
Lord Justice Leveson intervened to say he thought a conscience clause would be of "limited value" because, once their cover was out, while you could protect people in law it was quite difficult to protect them from insidious issues.
Rusbridger replied: "I hope a union or staff association could give protection to anyone who triggered that [conscience] clause."
He said of the newspaper industry: "We've been under regulated and over legislated."
The NUJ has long campaigned for a conscience clause in contracts to protect journalists who refuse to breach the union's Code of Conduct.
- Trinity Mirror chief executive Sly Bailey told Leveson yesterday that she "might" consider whether a conscience clause should be inserted into Trinity Mirror employees' contracts.
- See also, How a conscience clause could fill the ethical vacuum in the newsroom.