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”.
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.”