Updated 27.11.09 12:50am. Look
out for further updates on this subject
EXCLUSIVE by Mark Watts
Fall-out from revelations about the attempted takeover of the national union of journalists by a far-left faction has cost the NUJ’s campaigns officer his job.
Four well-placed NUJ sources have revealed that Miles Barter was forced to resign from his job as the union’s campaigns and communications officer because of a conflict of interests with his position as a prominent member of the faction inspired by the socialist workers party (SWP). It comes after my revelation that he campaigned for Richard Simcox, the candidate of this faction, “NUJ Left”, in the election for the editorship of the Journalist magazine.
Barter was ordered to leave with immediate effect following the NUJ’s conference in Southport last weekend. The NUJ general secretary, Jeremy Dear, is understood to have initiated Barter’s removal. Dear has attempted to agree with Barter a “form of words” to explain his departure.
The enforced resignation undermines the cred-ibility, Roy Greenslade, media commentator of The Guardian, who had dismissed my revelation about Barter as an example of a “sham” investigation. He was forced to publish an apology for an outrageous comment about me.
It also undermines the credibility of Chris Wheal, who, in common with other “NUJ Left” members, also publicly dismissed my disclosure that the NUJ’s campaigns officer, who was also a prominent member of a political faction, was campaigning for that group’s candidate in a union election.
Barter, along with Simcox, was elected onto the “steering committee” of “NUJ Left” last May. I had revealed an e-mail dated Friday October 2 in which Barter told “NUJ Left” colleagues: “I’m off today and working on Richard’s campaign.”
Before I published that article, Barter told me that he had taken leave from his NUJ job for time owing.
During the election campaign, Barter was also outed as having involved himself in a complaint to the NUJ by one of my campaign supporters, Kevin Cahill, that his comment to the union’s website was adulterated.
Barter also accompanied Simcox to the election count on the afternoon of Monday November 16. Simcox polled seventh in an eight-strong field, with former Times journalist Christine Buckley winning.
In an analysis piece after the election, I wrote: “Barter’s position as the NUJ’s campaigns and communications officer is utterly untenable.”
Nonetheless, many – including me – will be sad that the antics of “NUJ Left” have led to Barter’s enforced departure.
Barter did not return calls for comment. However, he later told Jon Slattery, the former deputy editor of Press Gazette, for his blog: “I've done a year in the job and that's enough. I want to go back to freelancing.”
“Watts couldn't have got it more wrong if he was entering a 'getting it wrong' contest.”
A spokesman at the NUJ’s headquarters at Head-land House sought to deny that Barter had been forced out, saying: “Miles has resigned. That was his own choice.”
Asked why he had resigned, the spokesman add-ed: “That’s his choice, you need to speak to Miles about that. I can’t really talk about staff matters.”
“It was genuinely his own choice.”
Barter took up the London-based position as the NUJ’s campaigns officer a short period after leaving his former job as the union’s northern regional organiser.
Pressure on Dear over “NUJ Left” was increased after the election when photographer David Hoffman publicly accused “NUJ Left” of trying to take over the new London photographers’ branch.
Mark Watts – freelance journalist, broadcaster and FOIA Centre co-ordinator – stood in the election for editor of the Journalist, polling third. He is not a member of any political party or group.
on this article
Why Dear was wrong about ‘NUJ Left’
‘NUJ Left’ is ‘trying to take over new branch’
Ex-Times journalist elected to edit NUJ mag
Socialist Worker backs ‘NUJ Left’ candidate
‘NUJ Left’ NEC candidates ‘failed to declare’
Why Greenslade was wrong about ‘NUJ Left’
Revealed: SWP helped to re-launch ‘NUJ Left’
‘Hanky panky’ in NUJ election revealed
Union staff campaign for ‘NUJ Left’ candidate
NUJ extends voting period following request
Four election candidates seek vote extension
NUJ peer raises election issue in parliament
Watts unmasks ‘NUJ Left’ candidate in circular
C4 News anchor Jon Snow backs Watts for editor
Former BBC political reporter supports Watts
Top journalists back Watts election campaign
More journalists support election bid by Watts
Watts campaigns for independent Journalist
FOIA specialist in election for Journalist editorship
Journalistic background of Mark Watts
Comments on Journalist election (7)