Hoon is not taking warf zone worries seriously'

Dear: far from satisfied with response from Hoon

Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has been accused of ignoring the NUJ’s concerns about the safety of journalists in war zones.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said he was far from satisfied with the response he received from Hoon when he met him last month.

He said: “Truth is a casualty of war but so have our members been and what we want is an inquiry. When I asked Geoff Hoon for answers he couldn’t give them; when I asked him to put pressure on the US he said he wouldn’t.

“When US troops terrorise independent journalists, of course it’s a matter for the UK Government.”

According to Dear, Hoon told him: “Journalists know they have to report the truth. If they write rubbish they might find they won’t get quite so well protected.”

A motion unanimously agreed by the conference said the killing of journalists working in war zones should be a separate offence under international law.

It also called for independent international inquiries to be held when journalists are killed reporting wars.

The motion stated: “The ADM is deeply disturbed by the failure of the US and British military to provide adequate explanations for the deaths of seven journalists at the hands of coalition troops during the war in Iraq and its aftermath.”

NUJ members Terry Lloyd and Gaby Rado were among 18 media workers to die in Iraq during the first six months of the conflict. Film-maker James Miller, who was shot by an Israeli soldier in May, was also an NUJ member.

The conference heard that no UK national newspaper had yet signed up to the International News Safety Institute, which was founded last year.

The INSI has the support of 100 media organisations worldwide and is intended to establish safety standards, fund training and lobby governments.

Dear said: “War reporting will always be dangerous, but we have a duty to do all we can to provide the safest possible environment and ensure employers provide the right training and the right equipment.”

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