Scrap tour, demand journalists

Players representative Richard Bevan fields questions as tour row grows

The England Cricket Board has been urged to abandon England’s tour of Zimbabwe after Robert Mugabe’s notoriously anti-press regime banned 13 journalists from covering the matches.

On the banned list are the BBC, The Times, Sunday Times, News of theWorld, Sun and Daily Mirror .

Believed to be behind the decision to bar the journalists is Zimbabwe’s hardline information minister Jonathan Moyo.

Peter Wilson, chairman of the Sports Journalists Association, said it had called on the ECB to cancel the tour in May after British journalists, including Mihir Bose of the Daily Telegraph, had been deported from Zimbabwe.

Wilson said: “The SJA sent both the ECB and the government a letter in May condemning Mihir’s deportation and stated then that it had wider implications for journalists intending to go on the tour later in the year. The latest events in which 13 journalists have been refused entry visas, have proved us right.”

Kate Hoey, the Labour MP who has highlighted human rights abuses in Zimbabwe, said: “The ECB and the Government should immediately call the team home. This is a time to show moral courage and take a stand.”

Those said to be granted accreditation were The Guardian, Independent, Daily Express, Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday , Reuters, the Press Association, GQ magazine, ITN and Getty Images.

Mugabe has clamped down on its own press by closing the country’s independent Daily News. It has banned the BBC and also expelled the Guardian ‘s Zimbabwe correspondent, Andrew Meldrum

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