MP urges review into Commons press passes

An MP has aroused concern among journalists by demanding a Commons debate into whether they are abusing their press passes to obtain gossip about politicians.

Martyn Jones, Labour MP for Clwyd South, won £5,000 libel damages from the Mail on Sunday over a claim by political editor Simon Walters that he subjected a young Westminster security guard to a foul-mouthed outburst when asked for his pass.

Now he has demanded that the Commons should debate urgently what he has described as “the abuse of the privilege of press passes”.

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Lobby journalists expressed concern after Jones raised the issue with then Commons Leader Jack Straw.

“It is an abuse of privilege for a journalist to use a press pass to get tittletattle from security guards, police and other employees in the House to print lies about MPs,” Jones said.

Straw ducked the issue of a debate, but acknowledged that Jones “raises an important issue”.

He said:”If he does have serious complaints about the issue of passes, I suggest that he refers them to the appropriate House Committee.”

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