MPs have hit out at Newcastle United’s decision to ban The Journal and other newspapers.
Chairman Mike Ashley has been criticised in a parliamentary motion condemning Newcastle United for banning reporters.
Wansbeck MP Ian Lavery has hit out at Ashley in an Early Day Motion in which he says the Football Association needs to introduce a code of conduct for clubs in their dealings with reporters.
Mr Lavery defended newspapers such as The Journal which are “trying to do their professional best in reporting the affairs of football clubs”.
And the Labour MP warned that journalists must not be prevented from doing their job by “petty and vindictive” clubs.
Newcastle United hit the headlines for the wrong reasons when the club banned reporters from the Chronicle, The Journal and the Sunday Sun following coverage of a fans’ protest against Ashley.
In his EDM, Mr Lavery says: “That this House condemns the decision of Newcastle United FC Chairman, Mike Ashley, to withdraw all report facilities for journalists working on the Newcastle Chronicle, Newcastle Journal and Sunday Sun; notes that the denial of access to the St James’ Park stadium press box, training ground and interviews with players and manager leaves reporters unable to report on events which are of great interest to the local community; further notes that this follows the temporary banning of a Daily Telegraph reporter by the same club last season and similar actions by Nottingham Forest, Crawley Town, Port Vale and Rotherham United.”
The motion adds that the House: “supports the National Union of Journalists in believing that journalists working for a free press in a democratic society must be able to express themselves as they see fit within the law, without fear of petty and vindictive corporate sanctions; welcomes the broad support that supporters of the club have given to reporters trying to do their professional best in reporting the affairs of football clubs; and therefore calls on the Premier League and Football Association to implement a code of conduct in respect of the treatment of working journalists.”
Since the papers were banned from St James’ Park in October, press officers at the club have sought to prevent reporters asking questions of Alan Pardew and attending home match press events.
Within hours of the motion being posted in Parliament yesterday morning, 17 MPs had signed up, including Blyth’s Ronnie Campbell, Blaydon MP Dave Anderson, Gateshead’s Ian Mearns and Easington’s Grahame Morris.
The motion is not the first time Mr Lavery has used his work in parliament to speak out about the controversial owner.
Over the summer he asked ministers in the House of Commons if they agree that “Newcastle United football club is a national asset,” adding, “Does the minister share my utter bewilderment, and that of tens of thousands of Newcastle United supporters at the arrival of Joe Kinnear on Tyneside?”
The Labour MP also promised to boycott home matches after the club announced pay day lender Wonga as their new sponsor.
Newcastle United declined to comment on the motion.