Strict election publicity rules stop press reporting London mayoral meetings on capital's rising murder rate

Press have been barred from attending two meetings about London’s rising murder rate because of strict rules governing publicity ahead of an election.

The Greater London Authority did not allow any journalists to attend today’s London Assembly meeting on knife crime in the capital.

Journalists were also banned from the Mayor’s Summit at City Hall (pictured) yesterday on the same issue, attended by mayor Sadiq Khan, a number of high-profile politicians and the Met Police commissioner.

The obstruction to the press – and the public – is the result of “purdah” which limits publicity from the time an election is announced until polling day. In this case local elections are due to take place nationwide on 3 May.

A number of London Assembly members are understood to be standing for  election, or re-election, as London borough councillors, being able to hold both roles at the same time.

The decision to bar journalists from the meetings, despite intense media interest in the recent spate of killings in the capital, was made by the GLA’s monitoring officer.

The GLA said that during the pre-election period it applies the following policy: “Publicity will not deal with controversial issues or report views, proposals or recommendations in such a way that identifies them with individual politicians or their party groups.”

It added: “It is acceptable for the bodies / individual members to respond in appropriate circumstances to events and to legitimate service enquiries, provided that the replies are factual and not party political in tone or content (they should not seek to affect support, in any way, for parties or candidates).”

Only publicity that is “properly part of routine business” and is “necessary in order to discharge statutory requirements that are required to be undertaken at that point in time” is permitted by the GLA.

But, it said this did not prevent the Mayor or Assembly Members from making media statements before or after the meeting. The Guardian carried a report on the Mayor’s Summit yesterday.

While London Assembly meetings are typically live-streamed, these past two meetings were held in private and so not broadcast.

The Local Government Association publishes a guide to purdah for reference.

Comments

4 thoughts on “Strict election publicity rules stop press reporting London mayoral meetings on capital's rising murder rate”

  1. This is an extraordinarily restrictive reading of the law. The legislation is designed to stop an elected institution using its resources in ways that might favour one political party or another in the run-up to an election. That’s a good thing. But its quite ridiculous to extend that rule to the everyday business of an authority – such as a meeting, which would normally be open to the public or press, for fear that they might report political points made during that meeting. The media should challenge this now, or it will set a dangerous precedent.

  2. Urgent need to address London’s FATAL murders crisis – but let’s not bother ‘cos there is one of those public contests, not open to all residents over 18, to elect another useless politician to a local council. Mustn’t upset their chances ‘cos its worth money to them and makes them superior Human Beings ……. despite the pools of human blood staining our streets and pavements.

    Never mind folks. Another one, two or even 10 gun or knife murders are less important than rewarding local politicians with tax payers money and the chance to get backhanders and other favours. Tip for the day:

    I’m sure the stupid senseless and probably brain-dead killers will kindly wait another month for the local elections to die down, then they can resume their murdering AND London’s politically deluded can resume public pontifications.

    Meanwhile, in the real world, kids and adults are dying. Urgent action is needed, but who cares ???

    Jane

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