Press puzzled by Speaker's libel link - Press Gazette

Press puzzled by Speaker's libel link

Several of the journalists working at Westminster have told me that they are less than impressed by the decision of Commons Speaker Michael “Gorbals Mick” Martin to hire the services of libel lawyer firm Carter-Ruck & Partners.

The practice now has a state-of-the-art website which proclaims (let’s not use the expression “boasts about”) some of its recent actions against the media. These detail wins by such pillars of the community as Lady Falkender, Frank Bruno and Jade Goody.

Martin is thought to be the first Commons Speaker to resort to libel lawyers in this way. When Betty Boothroyd was Speaker she let her secretary, a genial buffer called Nick Bevan, answer any press enquiries. He gave journalists such straight, uncomplicated answers that Betty became one of the most popular Speakers of all time.

What makes the decision even more puzzling is the long-term link his Speakership has had with the official Press Gallery.

“Past Speakers have often come to our dinners and sent us messages of support,” says one Gallery worthy. “I think Martin may even be honorary president of the Press Gallery.

Good God. If he is, we’d better do something about it and tell him to step down from the post.”



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