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EXCLUSIVE by Mark Watts
Staff members at the national union of journalists are taking time off to campaign for the “NUJ Left” candidate in the election for Journalist editor.
Union staff members not in the far-left faction have come forward to blow the whistle on colleagues in “NUJ Left” who are actively campaigning for the political group’s candidate, Richard Simcox, in the election.
The NUJ publishes the Journalist magazine for its members, who have until November 16 to vote by postal ballot for a new editor – an extension of 10 days to the original deadline. The extension follow-ed a request by four of the eight candidates.
My e-mail circular to NUJ members two weeks ago unmasked Simcox as the “NUJ Left” candidate even though he had made no such declaration in his campaign material, including the “election address”, that was sent via the union to the electorate.
The e-mail circular revealed that “NUJ Left” was operating as a cabal and seeking to control the union’s national executive council, although it does not have total control yet. In addition, some – although not most – NUJ staff members are also in the political faction.
One source speaking on condition of anonymity told me: “You might think it worthwhile making the point that NUJ staff have been working to help the cabal that you have identified.”
I am today able to identify one NUJ staff member who has campaigned for the “NUJ Left” candidate in this election as Miles Barter, the union’s campaigns and communications officer.
Barter took up his current NUJ job a short period after leaving his former position as the union’s northern regional organiser.
According to one “NUJ Left” document, Barter was elected onto the “steering committee” of the faction at its conference last May – along with Simcox.
Whistle-blower claims of union staff not in “NUJ Left” were corroborated after I obtained a copy of an e-mail dated Friday October 2 – four days after the shortlist for the election was unveiled – that Barter sent to fellow members of the political faction.
In his e-mail, Barter writes: “I’m off today and working on Richard’s campaign. Here’s his website: http://richsimcox.co.uk.”
He also made a request in the e-mail to fellow members of “NUJ Left” for endorsements for Sim-cox. Many figures in the NUJ leadership who are also in “NUJ Left” are publicly endorsing Simcox’s bid. Barter had already publicly endorsed Simcox in this election.
I called Barter last night to put to him that he had taken time off work to help on Simcox’s election campaign. He responded: “No, I haven’t. I don’t know who told you that.”
When I told him that I had a copy of his e-mail of October 2 and read the key sentence to him, Barter said: “I had that day off,” adding that it was time owing.
Asked whether he felt it appropriate for the NUJ’s campaigns officer to campaign for the “NUJ Left” candidate in this election, he responded: “I’m a member of the NUJ.”
“I work for the NUJ, and, out of work, I have helped Richard.”
When questioned why “NUJ Left” had fielded a candidate without making a proper declaration in election material sent to voters, Barter angrily ended the call.
The Channel 4 news presenter, Jon Snow, and an
army of other eminent journalists from all corners of the media industry, and from across the UK and Ireland, have backed my election campaign.
My pitch is that the new editor of the Journalist should be an independent journalist at heart – not a politicised activist.
Mark Watts – freelance journalist, broadcaster and FOIA Centre co-ordinator – is standing in the election on the basis that the new editor of the Journalist should be an independent journalist at heart – not a politicised activist. He is not a member of any political party or group.
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