View all newsletters
Sign up for our free email newsletters

Fighting for quality news media in the digital age.

  1. Comment
March 15, 2016

NUJ accuses UCL of “disgraceful” behaviour after student journalist threatened with expulsion

By John Reynolds

University College London (UCL) has been accused of behaving in a “disgraceful fashion” by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) over its threat to dismiss a student journalist who published details about its finances.

The NUJ has called on the university to withdraw its threat to dismiss 21-year-old Rebecca Pinnington, who was threatened with disciplinary action by the university after she published an article revealing the existence of classified forecasts.

The forecasts showed increased income the university expected to generate from student accommodation.

The article, which only revealed the existence of the document but did not reveal any figures, was published on UCL’s news website Pi Media last week.

The university sent a warning letter to Pinnington telling her she could face sanctions including “dismissal without notice and potential exposure to court proceedings” if she published more information from the documents.

The university asked the fourth-year student to destroy or hand over the information, which had been inadvertently been shared via Microsoft Outlook.

Pinnington, 21, who is president of the student-run website, told The Independent that she felt "scared" and "intimidated" by the university's behavour towards her.

Content from our partners
How PA Media is helping newspapers make the digital transition
Publishing on the open web is broken, how generative AI could help fix it
Impress: Regulation, arbitration and complaints resolution

She said: “I felt intimated, anxious and scared. As a student journalist I felt sad because this was information that was interesting and integral to student life, but it was made very clear that if I were to publish anything more I could lose my degree.”

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: “The NUJ supports journalists and student journalism. It appears that the university has behaved in a disgraceful fashion by intimidating her in this way.

“The information is clearly in the public interest and she appears to have acted in a proportionate and responsible way. We expect the university to retract its threats.”

Topics in this article : ,

Email to point out mistakes, provide story tips or send in a letter for publication on our "Letters Page" blog

Select and enter your email address Weekly insight into the big strategic issues affecting the future of the news industry. Essential reading for media leaders every Thursday. Your morning brew of news about the world of news from Press Gazette and elsewhere in the media. Sent at around 10am UK time. Our weekly does of strategic insight about the future of news media aimed at US readers. A fortnightly update from the front-line of news and advertising. Aimed at marketers and those involved in the advertising industry.
  • Business owner/co-owner
  • CEO
  • COO
  • CFO
  • CTO
  • Chairperson
  • Non-Exec Director
  • Other C-Suite
  • Managing Director
  • President/Partner
  • Senior Executive/SVP or Corporate VP or equivalent
  • Director or equivalent
  • Group or Senior Manager
  • Head of Department/Function
  • Manager
  • Non-manager
  • Retired
  • Other
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.
Thank you

Thanks for subscribing.

Websites in our network