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May 31, 2017

Plymouth Herald reporter told ‘absolutely nothing’ by Theresa May in interview

By Dominic Ponsford

Plymouth Herald political reporter Sam Blackledge reflected today that meeting Prime Minister Theresa May was only marginally better than being shunned by her on a previous visit to the South West.

Local reporters found themselves shut in a room and banned from filming when May visited an industrial estate in Helston at the start of May.

Today Blackledge was granted a three-minute interview in which each of his three questions was met with generality from the Prime Minister.

For example:

Blackledge: “Plymouth is feeling the effects of military cuts. Will you guarantee to protect the city from further pain?”

Prime Minister: “I’m very clear that Plymouth has a proud record of connection with the armed forces.”

In a feature article about the encounter he said: “If the ultimate job of a journalist is to get answers, I had failed.

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“Should I have stopped her and demanded she be more specific? Could I have gone full angry Paxman, or brought the interview to an abrupt close in protest?

“Last time the PM was in the South West, a group of Cornish journalists were shut in a room and prevented from filming or photographing her.

“At the time it was seen as an embarrassing PR gaffe – but it meant that this morning we were overjoyed to simply be allowed proper access and happy to play along.

“Back at the office, we scratched our heads and wondered what the top line was.

“She had and given me absolutely nothing. It was like a postmodern version of Radio 4’s Just A Minute.”

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