Former BBC man slams MoD over military access

A former BBC TV correspondent has added to the criticism of the Ministry of Defence by calling MoD press officers “the most inept and authoritarian of all government press officers”.

In a letter to The Times former BBC correspondent Michael Sullivan wrote: “Ministry of Defence “facilities” and access” should not be personal favours for only those journalists and organisation of whom civil servants approve.”

He said: “It is no surprise to most journalists that a government that permitted Alastair Campbell to practice his megalomania, MoD press officers – in my experience the most inept and authoritarian of all government press officers – are abusing their power in the same way.”

Sullivan wrote that MoD press officers were appointed at taxpayers expense and it was their duty to organise media access to military operations mounted on behalf of the electorate where possible.

Sullivan said: “Value judgments about standards of journalism are for others to express.”

On Monday, the MoD banned all ITN reporters from embedded assignments in Afghanistan or Iraq following two reports on ITV News that were critical of the way wounded soldiers have been treated. The MoD had complained about alleged inaccuracies and also expressed concern about ITV using images that could identify injured soldiers.

One journalists who had dealt with the MoD while reporting told Press Gazette that the measures amounted to censorship and was “pathetic”, while another described the MoD’s policy for allowing journalists access to the military in Afghanistan as “disastrous”.

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