The National Union of Journalists has criticised shadow culture minister Ivan Lewis’s calls for journalists guilty of gross malpractice to be struck off from the profession.
Lewis used his speech to the Labour Party Conference in Liverpool today to call for a new system of independent regulation, which he said would include ‘proper like for like redress which means mistakes and falsehoods on the front page receive apologies and retraction on the front page”.
But Lewis also argued that ‘as in other professions the industry should consider whether people guilty of gross malpractice should be struck off”.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet described Lewis’s comments as ‘depressing’and ‘ridiculous”.
‘Is he actually calling for a state-approved register of journalists, one where politicians or media owners can strike through names at their will?’she asked.
“At the heart of the NUJ is our ethical Code of Conduct.”
Stanistreet claimed that politicians needed to acknowledge that it was ‘they, more than anyone’who ‘indulged the worst excesses of Rupert Murdoch”.
‘This is the time to right the wrongs of the past, to raise standards across the industry and, crucially, to tackle the widespread problems of media ownership in the UK,’she argued.
‘Journalists and press freedom absolutely must not be scapegoated in the search for higher standards or for the sake of political soundbites.”
In an interview with the Press Gazette earlier this year The Independent editor Chris Blackhurst made similar calls to Lewis, arguing that a new-look press watchdog should be more like the General Medical Council or Law Society, with the power to ban and fine both editors and individuals.
Addressing part of his speech to News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch, Lewis said: ‘Your newspapers and Sky TV are popular with millions of British people.
‘Some people in our movement might find that uncomfortable but it’s true. However, and yes conference, we should have said this a long time ago. Mr Murdoch, never again think you can assert political power in the pursuit of your commercial interests or ideological beliefs.
‘This is Britain, Mr Murdoch. The integrity of our media and our politics is not for sale.’