NUJ creates press voice in Parliament

The NUJ is hoping it will get a bigger voice at Westminster after the union created its first parliamentary group.

Some 28 MPs from across the political spectrum have banded together to campaign on journalism issues.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said its existence was a significant step.

“It’s one of the most important things we have done in many years, ensuring our views are heard at the highest level and we are excited about the project.”

Labour MP Austin Mitchell, a former BBC and Yorkshire Television journalist, will chair the group, which held its first meeting on Tuesday. MP John McDonnell will be secretary.

Mitchell said it was vital the NUJ’s voice was heard on media issues, including employment rights, threats to press freedom and the renewal of the BBC’s charter.

“In effect the NUJ was squeezed out of discussions on ITV and the communications bill because it wasn’t allowed to give evidence at the prelegislative hearings,” said Mitchell. “This has awakened the idea that it does need a voice.”

MPs will meet every six to eight weeks to discuss possible actions, including tabling parliamentary questions, putting down motions and seeking meetings with ministers.

At the initial meeting, the group agreed to take up concerns about media employers who flout the law on working hours, press for an investigation into James Miller’s death and issues relating to Granada and Carlton redundancies.

By Sarah Boden

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