Accounts for the Media Standards Trust show that the National Union of Journalists spent £4,000 helping to fund a series of fringe events jointly organised with Hacked Off at the three main political party conferences in 2012.
Hacked Off is the campaign group calling for a tougher and more independent system of press regulation and which backs the cross-party Royal Charter on regulating the press. Most regional and national newspaper publishers are currently backing a rival system of industry self-regulation called the Independent Press Standards Organisation.
The accounts state that Goldsmiths, part of the University of London, also spent £4,000 helping to pay for the Leveson fringe events in 2012*. Speakers at the events included NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet and comedian Steve Coogan (pictured above).
A spokesperson for the NUJ told Press Gazette: “The NUJ has not donated any money to Hacked Off, the allegations circulating on Twitter are untrue and the NUJ has pointed that out.
“During the debates on the future of press regulation and the Leveson Inquiry, the NUJ was one of several groups who shared the costs of fringe events at all party conferences. The events featured speakers giving different perspectives on what was needed from Leveson.
“The organisations taking part in the fringe events sent their share of the costs to Hacked Off, which is the payment that has been misconstrued as a donation. The decision to take part in fringe meetings and put the NUJ perspective on such an important issue affecting our membership was of course one taken by the union’s National Executive Council at that time.”
The three fringe events were jointly organised by Hacked Off, the NUJ and the Co-ordinating Committee for Media Reform.
Up until 13 August 2012 Hacked Off was part of the Media Standards Trust. Since then it has been an independent organisation with its own board of directors and articles of association.
The Media Standards Trust describes itself as an organisation which aims to “foster high standards in news media, promoting quality, accountability and transparency”.
In July last year it published a research document which was strongly critical of the IPSO press regulation plan being put forward by most of the publishing industry.
The report said that the new plan showed “a profound lack of any functional or meaningful independence from the industry that IPSO seeks to regulate”.
The MST’s biggest backer in 2012 was the Gatsby Foundation, a charitable fund set up by Lord Sainsbury of Turville, which provided £225,000. Other backers included the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust (£20,000) and the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation (£70,000).
*Note: Goldsmiths has contacted Press Gazette to point out that while the Co-ordinating Committee for Media Reform is based at Goldsmiths, it has its own funding. So the university said it was incorrect to say that Goldsmiths funded the fringe events.