NUJ Irish secretary Seamus Dooley, mocks Lord Hutton;
The “one-sided Hutton Report” was unequivocally condemned by the conference.
- January 17, 2018
- January 3, 2018
- December 19, 2017
It unanimously passed a motion supporting the independence of the BBC, standing by Andrew Gilligan and condemning the “grovelling tones” adopted by acting director general Mark Byford in the aftermath of the Hutton Inquiry.
The NUJ also called for the setting up of an independent body to protect whistleblowers and urged BBC journalists to “continue investigative journalism and to ask rigorous and testing questions of politicians”.
John Davidson, Father of Chapel at BBC Radio News, said: “Many workers in journalism at the BBC were shellshocked by Lord Hutton’s conclusions.
Others were upset. But most were disgusted.
“Our members have worked hard to maintain the BBC’s reputation for fairness and impartiality.”
He said NUJ members at the corporation would “fight tooth and nail” to protect its independence and against “attempts to rein in investigative journalism”.
He added: “Sixty years ago – at the height of the Blitz – the Home Service was broadcasting the flagship six o’clock radio news bulletin from Broadcasting House when listeners heard an enormous explosion.
“Debris was falling in the studio, and there was silence for a few moments before the announcer dusted off his evening suit, adjusted his bow tie, apologised and went on to describe events in the north Atlantic.
“Tony Blair had better be warned. If Hitler couldn’t rattle us in 1943, then the New Labour Government doesn’t stand a chance.”
Union members have been urged to attend a mass lobby at the Houses of Parliament on 19 May, during which the NUJ’s various concerns will be raised with the MPs.
NUJ deputy general secretary John Fray said: “Andrew Gilligan was our member and we supported him when it wasn’t necessarily the popular thing to do.
BBC Radio News FoC Davidson disgusted by report
“We sided with him throughout that long period and I saw Andrew Gilligan beginning to melt – he was under that amount of pressure. Things happened like the death of Dr Kelly which we all regretted. But he stood by the points he was making in his story and that’s something we all have to remember.”
The decision by the University of Ulster to award Lord Hutton an honorary degree in February was branded disgraceful in a motion tabled by broadcasters from Northern Ireland.
Speaking in favour of the motion, Irish secretary Seamus Dooley donned a comedy wig to signal his lack of respect for the Ulster judge.
Ronan Brady, from Dublin publications and PR branch, slammed Hutton as “the embedded judge and purveyor of whitewash in the noble tradition of Lord Diplock and Lord Widgery”.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear is to write to the university’s chancellor asking him to rescind the decision to award the degree.