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June 7, 2017

Local press journalists denied chance to ask Theresa May questions on visit to Cheltenham

By James Walker

The editor of a Gloucestershire daily has criticised the Prime Minister for leaving an event before local reporters could ask her questions.

Journalists from Gloucestershire Live, the website of the Gloucester Citizen and Gloucestershire Echo newspapers, attempted to interview Theresa May when she made a surprise appearance at the Cheltenham Science Festival.

But they were told by Mrs May’s team that they would not be able to ask any questions but could listen to questions put to the PM at the end of her trip around Cheltenham Town Hall. They were later told that listening in would not be possible and that they were only allowed to film her visit.

Matt Discombe, one of the Gloucestershire Live reporters ignored by Mrs May, later wrote that he and his colleague Carly Squires would have asked the PM about A&E services in Cheltenham, police cuts in Gloucestershire and local press restrictions on the campaign trail.

Discombe told Press Gazette: “We were told not to get our hopes up about getting an interview with the Prime Minister, and that she was on a tight schedule. The whole event was very stage-managed by her team.

“However, it is still disappointing that she did not seem to want to engage with the local press and give voters in Gloucestershire the answers they deserve – especially just two days before polling day.”

Matt Holmes, the editor of the Gloucestershire Echo, told HoldTheFrontPage:  “I think it is outrageous that the incumbent Prime Minister refuses to engage with our reporters this close to the General Election.”

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The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has chronicled how local press journalists have been frozen out by both Corbyn and May during the general election campaign.


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