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MPs call for 'heightened measures' to protect journalists from violence and threats

MPs have called for “heightened measures” to protect journalists from an “alarming spate” of intimidation, threats and violence from far-right protesters.

But they simultaneously condemned the press itself for using “highly-charged” language such as “enemies of the people” and “traitors”.

An Early Day Motion on the protection of journalists and elected representatives from violence was tabled this week after the New York Times reported that a mocked-up video depicting President Donald Trump shooting and stabbing journalists had been shown at a conference for his supporters in Miami last week.

The media organisations mentioned in the video reportedly include the BBC, Bloomberg, Buzzfeed, the Guardian, Huffpost, Yahoo News and Vice.

The EDM, tabled on Monday by Labour MP Clive Lewis (pictured), says the MPs are “appalled” by the footage and adds that they believe “acts of incitement of violence towards either journalists or public representatives have absolutely no place in a democratic society”.

It goes on to condemn “the use of highly-charged language by the print media, accusing public figures of being traitors or enemies of the people”.

In November 2016 the Daily Mail branded three High Court judges who ruled the Government who need the consent of Parliament to give notice of Brexit as “enemies of the people”.

According to then-editor Paul Dacre the headline references an Ibsen play about a newspaper editor who was unfairly branded an “Enemy of the People” because he raised concerns about contamination at a town baths.

But parallels were drawn with a German newspaper in 1933 that branded people who had their German citizenship revoked by the Nazi regime as “Traitors of the People”.

The EDM was also prompted by what it described as an “alarming spate” of recent reports of intimidation, threats and violence towards journalists, especially photographers, by far-right protesters “systematically targeting the media”.

Press Gazette understands the National Union of Journalists is receiving regular reports of attacks on journalists and is actively meeting with police to discuss the issue.

The NUJ last spoke out about the issue in March when more than 65 journalists signed an open letter condemning such intimidation.

Guardian columnist Owen Jones, who was allegedly attacked outside a north London pub in August, has blamed politicians and the media for “legitimising and emboldening” far-right activists. Three men have since been charged with actual bodily harm and affray over the incident.

Also this year photojournalist Joel Goodman was assaulted by a “yellow vest” activist at a demo in Manchester, while journalist Mike Stuchbery claimed former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson had intimidated him at his home late at night.

In the EDM, MPs condemned such assaults against journalists for doing their jobs and called on the Government and police authorities to do more.

They should “introduce heightened measures to protect journalists and elected representatives at this time of heightened political division,” it reads.

More than 20 MPs have so far signed the EDM from across all the main political parties including Labour MP Rosie Cooper who was the subject of a thwarted far-right murder plot.

Picture: UK Parliament

Comments

1 thought on “MPs call for 'heightened measures' to protect journalists from violence and threats”

  1. Truly Orwellian, when those who intimidate, threaten and censor call for protection. Such calls are self serving and have nothing to do with protecting journalism. The abuse and torture of Mr Assange tells us all we need to know about such concerns.

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