BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg has been assigned bodyguards while covering the Labour Party conference following online threats, the Sun on Sunday has reported.
Kuenssberg was pictured in Brighton flanked by a man who The Times claimed in a follow-up is a former British soldier turned security advisor specialising in journalists’ safety.
- May 23, 2019
- May 16, 2019
- May 15, 2019
This is not the first time Kuenssberg is understood to have been assigned a security detail.
As a rule, the BBC does not comment on security matters.
A corporation insider told the Sun on Sunday: “We take the safety of our staff extremely seriously.
“Laura is a well-known public figure. She and her team will be covering events with big crowds where there can be hostility, so we want to ensure adequate precautions are taken.”
Society of Editors deputy executive director Ian Murray said threats to journalists for doing their jobs were “appalling” and “very concerning”.
He said: “It is important that politicians here in the UK move quickly to inform their supporters that journalists, indeed anyone, should never be the subject of abuse.
“The Society is calling on the Labour leadership to speak from the platform during their conference to condemn threats of violence and verbal abuse from whatever quarter.
“While it is always acceptable to enter into debate over whether a media organisation, including the BBC, is upholding impartial standards, resorting to threats of violence is never acceptable.”
Rebecca Vincent, UK bureau director of press freedom organisation Reporters Without Borders, added: “Violence against journalists is unacceptable in any form, and the increase in online threats against female journalists around the world is nothing short of alarming.
“These latest reports of threats against Laura Kuenssberg must be taken very seriously. It is appalling that a respected journalist cannot safely cover a political party conference, and sends a worrying signal about the state of press freedom in the UK, which must urgently be addressed.”
He said the abuse was becoming “increasingly explicit and aggressive”, particularly against female journalists, and that politicians should not “stand by and watch”.
Kuenssberg has faced a number of accusations of bias during her tenure as the BBC’s political editor, with Corbyn supporters in particular claiming she favours the Conservative government.
In May last year, a petition calling for her to be sacked prompted condemnation from the Prime Minister in parliament after it was said to have been “hijacked” by “sexist trolls”.
Chuka Umunna, MP for Streatham in London, is one of a number of Labour politicians who dismissed the claims of bias against Kuenssberg, calling them “utter garbage”.