The NUJ has hit back at Sky News after the channel’s boss accused the union of “jumping on the bandwagon” following the suicide of reporter James Forlong.
In an interview in Tuesday’s Independent, Nick Pollard said there was “something appalling about the way the NUJ has jumped on the bandwagon” and it was “very unworthy of a trade union, unworthy of any organisation. I didn’t think they had any regard for the facts”.
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Pollard also claimed the NUJ “seized on the Forlong story and twisted it to its own purpose”.
He was speaking in response to an article published in the NUJ magazine The Journalist last week, which described Forlong – who killed himself in October after resigning from Sky for faking a news report – as the “latest victim of an uncaring macho management machine”.
However, NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear told Press Gazette the piece had been written by current and former Sky News staff who were “too frightened to put their names to it”.
“That says an awful lot about the culture that journalists are telling us exists at Sky. I think he [Pollard] could direct more of his attention to dealing with people’s fears about bullying than trying to attack the NUJ for exposing what’s going on,” he said.
Dear said it was possible that, had Forlong been given the opportunity to be represented at the disciplinary hearing and to have professional advice and had there been a procedure for dealing with trade unions, “he might have had another route to choose, rather than taking his own life”.
In a letter to The Independent, Dear said Sky was the only British broadcaster not to deal with the unions.
“Our purpose is to protect journalists, wherever they work, including Sky. We make no apology for that, however uncomfortable it may be for Nick Pollard,” he wrote.
By Wale Azeez