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The Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Jeremy Wright has today announced that the UK will set up a National Committee for the Safety of Journalists. They campaign on an ideal of of being against government suppression of free speech and journalist repression when going about their business.
On the government website it states “The Global Conference for Media Freedom in 2019 will be the first of its kind. It will take place 10 to 11 July 2019 in London”. On the stage is a backdrop with the logo ‘Defending Media Freedom’.
It started yesterday and on day 2 today one of the items on it’s agenda for discussion was safety and protection of journalists and towards a shared solution and what is media freedom: why is it important?
Crystia Freeland the Canadian foreign minister sits on a panel with UK PM hopeful Jeremy Hunt, the head of the BBC, Amal Clooney, wife of the actor George Clooney, the Director General of UNESCO and that Malaysian politician.
Jeremy Hunt assured everyone present that the UK is committed to media freedoms, funnily enough no one discussed this particular aspect.
Freeland said “Journalists should be free to do their jobs without fear of reprisal”.
Lord Tony Hall, director of the BBC, also spoke and said he wants to fight disinformation and “bias”.
All very noble and laudable.
The reporter Sheila Gunn Reid, whilst covering the event tweeted this;
We were nice. Left when they asked us to. Didn’t make a scene. But my Lord, the hypocrisy. https://t.co/GcAHhuZOlj
— Sheila Gunn Reid (@SheilaGunnReid) 11 July 2019
Looks like press freedom is a bit of a misnomer!
Not far away, at the UK’s premier legal court, the Old Bailey, ironically on the second day of this conference the citizen journalist known as Tommy Robinson was sentenced to 9 months for reporting on the euphemistically named grooming gang scandal plaguing the UKs cities and urban areas.
The case in question has been covered extensively so I won’t cover it here, except to say that he asked defendants going for sentencing what they thought of the verdict outside Leeds Crown Court. Doing what I have seen Sky News and BBC News do many times before.
The mood outside the court was incandescent after the sentence was announced.
They see £1 million spent policing Tommy Robinson rallies and £1 million spend prosecuting Tommy Robinson himself, while rape gangs seem to go unhindered. And they certainly shouldn’t be reported on, at least not by someone who has not been inducted in the ‘way to do things round here’ .
It seems some press freedoms are more important than others.