Two of Labour’s most high-profile politicians have condemned abuse directed at BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg after reports she had been assigned bodyguards to cover the party’s conference.
Former deputy leader Harriet Harman said Kuenssberg was a “superb woman journo” while Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott said abuse directed at the political editor was “wrong”.
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Harman also called on Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to condemn the abuse in a tweet that included yesterday’s Times front page picturing Kuenssberg with a man the paper claims is a security specialist.
It followed a Sun on Sunday story that said Kuenssberg had been assigned close protection at the conference owing to online abuse. Kuenssberg has frequently been the target of online trolls who claim her reporting is bias.
Harman said: “What has it come to when superb woman journo Laura Kuenssberg needs bodyguard at Labour conference? Jeremy Corbyn, for all of us please condemn.”
Abbott told the Guardian: “Laura is doing a job, I may not always like how she does the job every time, but it is her job and why – just because she is a woman journalist – does she get that level of abuse. It’s wrong.”
The BBC has declined to comment on the reports, saying only: “We do not comment on security issues.” Kuenssberg herself has made no comment.
Good Morning Britain presenter and former BBC journalist Susanna Reid tweeted that it was a “terrible situation for Laura to be in”, adding that she was “an outstanding journalist”.
The Society of Editors has called on the Labour leadership to condemn threats of violence and verbal abuse.
“It is appalling that any journalist should face threats for going about their legal business anywhere in the world, but for it to happen here in the UK to such a high-profile figure is very concerning,” deputy executive director Ian Murray 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.”
Kuenssberg was named Journalist of the Year at the British Journalism Awards 2016 (pictured top).