Thursday, 25 July 2019

Media Quotes of the Week: From ministers warned of legal threats to silence Carole Cadwalladr to why PM Boris Johnson chose politics over journalism

Open letter sent to the UK foreign and culture secretaries from press freedom campaigners, as reported by the Observer: "Following the recent global conference on media freedom held in London by the UK government, we write to draw your attention to what appears to be a growing trend to use strategic litigation against public participation (“SLAPP”) lawsuits as a means of intimidating and silencing journalists working in the public interest. Such legal threats are designed to inhibit ongoing investigations, and prevent legitimate public interest reporting. Abuse of defamation law, including through SLAPP lawsuits, has become a serious threat to press freedom and advocacy rights in a number of countries, including the UK."

The letter adds: "Numerous legal and online threats have been made against Carole Cadwalladr, whose journalism for the Observer and a range of other publications has stimulated a global debate about the power of online platforms to influence the behaviour of citizens, and raised important questions about the regulation of digital technology. The legal claim against Ms Cadwalladr, issued on 12 July by lawyers acting for Arron Banks, is another example of a wealthy individual appearing to abuse the law in an attempt to silence a journalist and distract from these issues being discussed by politicians, the media and the public at a critical time in the life of our democracy."

Observer editor Paul Webster in the Observer on Carole Cadwalladr: "Throughout her investigations she has been the target of a relentless campaign of smears and vilification by some of the subjects of her inquiries. The latest legal threats are a further attempt to smother vital investigative reporting.”

Steven Edginton in the Mail on Sunday stating he received the leak of ambassador Sir Kim Darroch's cables on the Trump administration: "Today I want to set the record straight and reveal the real story about how Sir Kim's diplomatic cables entered the public domain. I am sorry to disappoint the conspiracy theorists but this was not a Brexiteer plot to topple Sir Kim, nor was it some devilish scheme to torpedo the independence of the Civil Service by installing a political appointee in Washington. Instead, it was simply an honest journalistic endeavour...I worked first as a video journalist for a political website called Westmonster before stints as a digital strategist at the Taxpayers' Alliance and Leave Means Leave campaign. Since April, I have worked for the Brexit Party, helping run its social media feeds. I appreciate that my CV – and my pro-Brexit views – will inevitably fuel the conspiracy theories but I want to be absolutely clear: the leak of Sir Kim's cables had absolutely nothing to do with the Brexit Party."

Jon Sopel @BBCJonSopel on Twitter: "I’m sorry. I just don’t buy this. This account begs far more questions than it answers."

Lionel Barber @lionelbarber on Twitter: "The plot thickens.....but the idea that a 19 year old cub reporter was primarily responsible for the Darroch leak defies belief. After all, this involved a trove of diplomatic cables not a snatched telephone conversation about Ambo views on Trump!"

The NUJ in a statement on possible sale of former Johnston Press newspapers to Reach: “If parts of JPI Media are sold to Reach there will be an adverse impact on the market and those employed within it. A takeover of this kind would limit the scope for future jobs in the entire sector. Any deal that includes JPI Media’s flagship regional titles would lead to the market being dominated by just two companies - Reach and Newsquest. Both organisations have been relentless in reducing original content and the provision of local professional journalism. The union is concerned that decisions on editorial policy and news gathering and practice will be concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people and so we are calling on parliamentarians to investigate the lack of media plurality in Britain."

The Guardian reports: "Claims by Boris Johnson that regulations imposed by 'Brussels bureaucrats' were damaging the trade in kippers have been debunked by the European Commission, which said that the food safety obligations criticised by him were due to rules set by Britain."

Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies, chair of the European Parliament's fisheries committee, quoted in the Mirror: "Boris Johnson made his career as a journalist by writing stories about the EU that bore no relation to the truth.His latest fishy tale may have gone down well with Tory party members, but it sends the strongest possible message to Britain's European partners."

Alan Rusbridger @arusbridger on Twitter: "Truly Orwellian. A complete fiction about a kipper. Followed by a promise to 'restore trust in politics'. "

David Yelland @davidyelland on Twitter: "Boris Johnson built a career on lying about Brussels and he’s still at it."

Jim Pickard @PickardJE on Twitter: "Boris Johnson once told a colleague of mine he wanted to enter politics because 'no one puts up statues to journalists', that pretty much sums it up."

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