Death threat journalist must have protection, NUJ tells Northern Ireland Secretary

The NUJ has called on Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain to reconsider a decision not to grant protection to a journalist who has received a death threat.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear has asked Hain to review the decision not to grant protection to a Belfast Sunday World journalist under the Key Person Protection Scheme (KPPS) following an Ulster Volunteer Force death threat in August this year.

The union has also asked for confirmation that journalists are not generally debarred from the scheme in contradiction of assurances given by Jane Kennedy MP after the murder of Martin O'Hagan.

In the letter, Dear (pictured) said: "The refusal of the application and the reasons given represent a significant change in policy towards the protection of journalists at risk in Northern Ireland. I am also disappointed that it has taken two months to consider the application.

"The Police Service of Northern Ireland advised the member concerned that there is a substantial threat to his life and the company has taken appropriate measures to improve personal security."

In rejecting the application Paul Goggins MP, Minister of State with responsibility for Security, claimed that the scheme is aimed at "those in the public service concerned with the effective administration of Government and the criminal justice system, upholding law and order and maintaining the democratic framework." Dear said: "The NUJ has never demanded blanket inclusion of journalists but believe that there are circumstances where the protections offered by KPPS would be appropriate. The protection of journalists at risk clearly meets the objective of maintaining the democratic framework and this was accepted by Ms Kennedy."


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