Howard appoints Kirkbride to his Shadow Cabinet

Michael Howard has underlined his commitment to press freedom by choosing a journalist as his Shadow Media Secretary.

Former Daily Telegraph political correspondent Julie Kirkbride will shadow Tessa Jowell.

She replaced John Whittingdale, who has moved to agriculture in the reshuffle following Howard’s election as Conservative Party leader.

Kirkbride brings to her portfolio extensive media experience. Before becoming a print journalist she worked as a television researcher with Yorkshire Television, as a BBC producer on news and current affairs and as a journalist for ITN.

However, since becoming MP for Bromsgrove in 1997, she has not been uncritical of the press.

As a member of Gerald Kaufman’s media select committee she backed a recommendation – which Jowell rejected – for the Press Complaints Commission to fine editors who breached its Code of Practice.

But her promotion will underpin the Tories’ commitment – shared by the Government – for the press to regulate itself rather than come under broadcasting regulator Ofcom when it assumes its powers on 29 December.

Another former journalist turned MP who gained a top job in Howard’s reshuffle is David Curry, who started work as a reporter with The Journal, Newcastle, before moving to the Financial Times, where he was Brussels and Paris correspondent.

Curry, as Shadow Secretary of State for Local and Devolved Government, will head a team covering local, regional and devolved government in Edinburgh and Cardiff.

By David Rose

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