as editor urges press to fight restrictions

Glover: listed obstacles to press

A regional newspaper editor has slammed restrictions on the flow of information from the emergency services, courts and councils to the local press and urged his colleagues to fight back.

Mike Glover, editor-publisher of the Westmorland Gazette, warned that “people who constantly interfere and put obstructions in the way of newspapers informing the public” were melting the “glue” that bound newspapers to their communities.

Addressing the Northwest region of the Society of Editors in Blackpool, Glover said editors needed to use every opportunity to tell the public about the obstacles put in the way of local newspapers keeping the communities they serve informed.

Glover cited a catalogue of restrictions, including: police withholding names of accident victims; fire brigades, coastguards and mountain rescue teams ceasing to provide names and addresses; police obstructing photographers at crash scenes; and sports clubs and primary schools which say names and photographs of children should not be published together.

He accused courts of misinterpreting legislation and coroners of routinely sanitising evidence to protect the family of the deceased.

Also cited were local government reforms, which prevent proposals being discussed before decisions are taken, and suspensions of senior local government officers being shrouded in secrecy for fear of litigation.

Glover claimed the new Freedom of Information Act would do nothing to overcome these obstacles, as local authorities would hone in on exemptions.

He urged editors to rail against obstacles in print, with speeches and by letters to the authorities.

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