Yandell Publishing, the owner of trade magazines Meat & Poultry News and Food Marketing & Manufacturing, has taken legal advice following a threat of expulsion from the meat industry trade organisation Foodex Meatex.
According to M&PN, a row broke out after an article was published in its May edition about the Foodex Meatex annual general meeting and a subsequent meeting about a proposed new exhibition to be held in Harrogate in 2003.
M&PN claimed none of the paperwork sent out about the AGM was marked confidential, nor was there any verbal announcement before the meetings that there were any reporting restrictions.
But Trevor Wicklow, chairman of the Foodex Meatex board, wrote to members claiming the meeting was confidential and claimed the story was "materially incorrect", containing financial information which was not in the public domain. The magazine has denied the allegations.
Yandell Publishing received a letter of complaint from Wicklow saying the board would consider a resolution to expel the company as a member at its next board meeting.
A week later the publisher was told it had been expelled, subject to appeal. It has contacted its solicitors and is expected to appeal at a meeting on 27 June.
M&PN editor Pamela Brook accused the organisers of going "over the top" and reacting in a very "heavy-handed way".
"I find it absolutely incredulous but we will not be put under pressure of any kind," she told Press Gazette.
"We don’t believe the article was misleading or inaccurate. We stand by our journalistic integrity. We are not subservient trade press and I don’t think it is a trade organisation’s job to expel the trade press."
The magazine has raised its concerns over the expulsion in a news story and leader in the June issue, claiming it informed Foodex Meatex in advance that the editor of M&PN would be attending the meetings and no objection was raised.
Brook said: "While we hope common sense will prevail at the meeting, our solicitors have advised us we have a good case and papers have been prepared." Steve Bax, chief executive of Foodex Meatex, stressed it was "an internal matter", adding: "It is not for me to say what reasons the board has for this but they will be presenting the rationale behind their proposal at the meeting." Graham Yandell, publisher of M&PN, said: "We have always supported the exhibition and have been loyal and active members.
"This does not mean we should abdicate our responsibility when it comes to reporting a news item of interest to our readers in the meat industry."
By Ruth Addicott