NUJ demands justice over Terry Lloyd killing

April 14, 2007

Journalists today voted to demand a follow-up to the investigation into the unlawful killing of journalist Terry Lloyd in Iraq four years ago.

Lloyd, an ITN correspondent, was hit by American fire as he approached the city of Basra not long after the US and British invasion in 2003.

An inquiry last October revealed that the act was an ‘unlawful killing’, although no charges were made.

The US have so far refused to undertake any criminal investigation or bring the perpetrators in front of a court of law, despite ITN’s recent announcement of the sixteen marines present at the scene.

Demands were made today for accountability for the killing. Journalist Diana Peasey said that answers were needed and the issue should be taken to the Pentagon. “There is still a lot to be known and discovered about this,” she claimed.

Jeremy Dear, General Secretary of the NUJ, said that cases like that of Terry Lloyd indicated the need for investigations into the killing of journalists across the world. This has to happen until ‘justice not power games’ becomes the norm, he added.

This debate was yet another reminder of the dangers facing journalists in the current political climate, particularly in the wake of the disappearance of BBC Correspondent Alan Johnston in Gaza just over four weeks ago.

Call for all journalists to demand freedom for BBC Journalist Alan Johnston

April 14, 2007

Ian Power, in Birmingham.

Delegates at the National Union of Journalists ADM were asked to support the quest for the release of captured BBC journalist Alan Johnston. Alan was kidnapped by Palestinian rebels 33 days ago in Gaza while reporting on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict for the BBC.

Speaking during a special motion, President of the International Federation of Journalists Aidan White told delegates that “during this moment of crisis we must mobilise support from journalists around the world to ensure Alan’s safe return”.

Also addressing the conference on Alan’s plight was BBC World News Editor, John Williams. Mr Williams told delegates that the freedom to report had “never been under greater threat than today”. He commended Alan for “having shown real courage over the last three years reporting in Gaza” and said he had no doubt he has shown that courage over the past four weeks.

However Mr Williams detailed his concern at the physical and mental toll Alan’s incarceration must be having on him. “Journalism does matter, and it’s thanks to people like Alan Johnston that it will continue to do so” he concluded.

Sign the Alan Johnston petition

April 14, 2007

The BBC have an online petition to free Alan Johnston. It states:

“We, the undersigned, demand the immediate release of BBC Gaza correspondent Alan Johnston. We ask that everyone with influence on this situation increase their efforts to ensure that Alan is freed quickly and unharmed.”

Sign it here.

MP calls on NUJ to intervene in Labour leadership contest

April 14, 2007

Ian Power, in Birmingham

Labour MP John McDonnell has urged the NUJ to hold the government to account on the safety of journalists abroad.

Speaking at the Union’s centenary annual delegate meeting today, McDonnell said he would be ensuring that the plight of journalists in conflict zones will be a key issue in the upcoming leadership contest of the Labour Party.

McDonnell blamed the government for endangering journalists in the first place by starting conflicts and for funding weapons for use in Columbia, where 500,000 trade unionists have been killed.

McDonnell was outraged that “the government are funding the very guns that are killing these people”.

Addressing the meeting in his capacity as Head of the NUJ Parliamentary Group, McDonnell said: “We will judge [the candidates] on their commitment to this issue,” and that affording our members a safe environment in which to do their job, at home or abroad, was “fundamental to democracy” – adding further that “whether it is in parliament or on the picket line we will be there in solidarity”.

NUJ President Condemns Kidnap of BBC Journalist

April 13, 2007

Ian Power, in Birmingham

Welcoming NUJ delegates to the next 100 years of the Union, President Chris Morley asked delegates to remember a member currently in grave danger. Mr Morley labeled the kidnapping of BBC Journalist Alan Johnston as a “vile attack on journalism and freedom of the press that is deeply disturbing for his family, friends and colleagues”. Speaking to a delegation of over 200 journalists from around the British Isles the NUJ President added “I hope whoever is keeping him captive will see sense and release Alan immediately”.

Addressing the Union, General Secretary Jeremy Dear echoed Chris Morley’s sentiments. Met with a rapturous applause Mr Dear commented that “Alan is more than an individual, he is one of us; his union family. We will not rest until Alan is free”.

Mr Morley also remembered Journalists who have lost their lives doing the job they love, “some of our members have already paid the price for upholding high standards in Journalism, such as Veronica Guerin and Martin O’Hagan”.

Moving onto the wider issue of the future of the NUJ, Mr Morley said that the Union was “well equipped to head into our second century”. He said that the NUJ “cannot wallow in nostalgia” but must look to the future and keep the union on the financial straight and narrow. The easiest way to do this, he said, was to go out and recruit new members.

The President went on to send a strong message to editors and management in the fight for better pay and conditions, “If you don’t value your journalists, why do you expect you readers and viewers to value the work that they do”. Speaking about the need to keep the pressure on these individuals, Mr Morley said “we cannot afford to sit back and take our foot off the pedal in our fight for decent pay and conditions”.

General Secretary Jeremy Dear was equally disgusted at the treatment of journalists by the “fat cats” in the industry. “I am sick of watching senior management reward themselves obscenely while the creative people struggle for a decent wage”.

The 100th ADM of the NUJ will continue throughout the whole weekend.