Parliamentary authorities withdrew passes from two journalists over their actions in reporting the aftermath of the foam pie attack on media mogul Rupert Murdoch – but the pair were allowed to return to the Palace of Westminster after a campaign on micro-blogging site Twitter and the high-profile intervention of a Conservative MP.
Authorities accused BBC producer Paul Lambert and Press Association political reporter Theo Usherwood of breaking Commons rules by attempting to follow the man accused of the attack he was led away by police, amid concerns that the strict rules on reporting and filming in Parliament were broken.
But Conservative MP Louise Mensch, a member of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, which was taking evidence from Murdoch and his son James at the time of the incident, raised the suspension of Mr Lambert’s pass in a point of order in the Commons chamber yesterday.
She said: “I have just learnt that the BBC journalist Mr Paul Lambert, who reported yesterday on the egregious breach of security that happened during the CMS committee, has had his parliamentary press pass removed by the House authorities.
“I hope that the House will agree with me that it’s appropriate that we support freedom of the Press, particularly when the Press are reporting on serious failures of security in this House.”
A Twitter campaign about the pair attracted support from Speaker John Bercow’s wife Sally, who wrote “the mindset of the House authorities (men in tights) is often a mystery to me”.
A spokeswoman for the Speaker said: “The circumstances in which the breaches of the regulations took place were unprecedented and unpredicted.
“We have had assurances from all the journalists concerned that they will respect the filming regulations in future and the Speaker feels that no useful purpose will be served by the withdrawal of these passes.”
Earlier, Bercow had ordered an “entirely independent” investigation into how a protester was able to carry out the foam pie attack.
Jonathan May-Bowles 26, of Edinburgh Gardens, Windsor, has been charged with behaviour causing harassment, alarm or distress in a public place under Section 5 of the Public Order Act and bailed to appear before City of Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday next week.