You're barred

By David Rose

Commons Speaker Michael Martin has angered journalists by barring
editors from the Parliamentary press gallery, apparently as a reprisal
for the Daily Mirror smuggling in a reporter to test security.

The ban means that editors, and their deputies, will have to sit
with the public in the public gallery behind a glass security screen if
they want to watch Michael Howard and Charles Kennedy take on Tony
Blair at Prime Minister’s Questions.

It is the second time editors have been banned.

summer the Speaker barred them, and specialist journalists, as part of
a security clampdown after protesters tossed a flour bomb at Blair.

ban was lifted in February, but Martin warned then that if any
newspaper or broadcaster exploited the concession to smuggle in someone
else, to test Commons security, the ban would be reimposed.

journalists will still have access to the press gallery to enable them
to report debates. But, for the time being, political reporters will no
longer be allowed to invite their editors to join them in watching
proceedings from the reporters’ gallery.

Reporters are angry that
rather than taking up the matter with the Daily Mirror the Speaker
chose to punish everyone. The concession is valued, particularly by
regional political journalists and their editors.

Greg Hurst,
honorary secretary of the Parliamentary press gallery, said: “It is
disappointing that part of an agreement, so recently negotiated, has
been revoked.

“We think it is important that if the Commons
reacts to such stories it is proportionate and it takes it up with the
newspaper concerned.”

● The Daily Mirror splashed on its Commons
security story on 18 March which was headlined “Open House”. It told
how Mirror reporter Daniel Boffey managed to get a job on the Commons
switchboard with fake references and obtained a security pass. The
Daily Mirror said he was given access to ministers’

office and mobile phone numbers and condemned security inside Parliament as “a shambles”.

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