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21 November 2019

Press Freedom Concerns Over Mirror ‘Battle Bus Ban’

Press freedom concerns have been voiced after the Conservative Party banned a Daily Mirror reporter from its campaign coach as the Prime Minister travelled from Manchester to the north east of England.  

The Mirror reported that it had been invited onto battle buses under every Conservative Party leader since they were invented in the 1970s, but this was the first time the paper had been excluded.

The paper reported that the Conservative Party had blamed the Mirror’s critical coverage of the Prime Minister in recent weeks.

Daily Mirror editor Alison Phillips said: "Mirror readers have every right to know what the Conservatives have in store for them should Boris Johnson win the election.

"Our journalists have every right to scrutinise the Conservatives on our readers' behalf.

"Blocking us from doing our job is deeply worrying for freedom of journalism and the protection of the truth."

The News Media Association said: “News media has a vital role to play in informing the public during this critical period of the election cycle. It is essential that journalists are given the fullest possible access to political parties and any attempt to restrict this constitutes an attack on the principles of press freedom.”

Ian Murray, executive director at the Society of Editors commented: " This is a disturbing development. The Society does not support any political cause but does believe in and campaign for press freedom and the public's right to know.

“All mainstream media should be given equal access to the political parties fighting this election. To restrict some media voices is not acceptable nor compatible with the principle of media freedom."

Jodie Ginsberg, Chief Executive of Index on Censorship said: "I think it's appalling. Freedom of expression involves supporting and defending the rights of others to say things we don't want to hear.

"That should include political parties accepting journalists whose views they don't share into their spaces.

Last week, the Prime Minister pledged to make a return visit to Nottinghamshire after the Chad accused Mr Johnson of fobbing off local press.