Friday, October 7, 2022

Thurrock Council accused of “blacklisting” newspaper editor

THURROCK Council has blacklisted a news outlet following an allegation made by its editor.

Neil Speight, editor of Thurrock Nub News, no longer receives responses to requests for information from Thurrock Council’s media team.

Opposition councillors have raised the snub with a motion criticising the decision.

In the motion, Labour group leader John Kent, said: “This council believes that a free press is a cornerstone of a fully functioning democracy. Therefore, this council is appalled at the decision to, effectively, blacklist the editor of Thurrock Nub News – Neil Speight – and calls on legal and democratic services to reverse their decision and fully engage with Mr Speight and all bona fide journalists.”

The council is unlikely to consider the motion in public.

The council’s monitoring officer said: “The circumstances and information relating to the subject matter of the motion relate to an individual and is subject to data protection law.

“Generally, there is a public interest in providing transparency of the decisions of the council. However it is not considered to be in the public interest to disclose information at a public council meeting.”

Mr Speight said: “The decision by person or persons unknown several weeks ago to announce that Thurrock Council would not to respond to any questions by the editor of a local media platform that fully subscribes to all the guidelines set by Thurrock Council, including adhering to the standards and rules set by the Independent Press Standards Organisation is an affront not just to the media in general, but to residents of Thurrock who have come to rely on the legitimate media to pursue their interests in the cause of democracy and to hold Thurrock Council to account.

“Over recent years the shameful behaviour of Thurrock Council towards the media beggars belief.

“Clearly Thurrock Council’s senior officer cohort and its senior ruling councillors believe they are above being held to account.”

Councillors will debate the matter on Wednesday.

Thurrock council was asked to respond.

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