Community news and investigative journalism for Wapping E1W and Tower Hamlets London

Press freedom in Tower Hamlets. Some questions for Takki Sulaiman from Ted Jeory

By on June 12, 2014 in Tower Hamlets council

Response by Ted Jeory to the email from me to Takki Sulaiman on the previous post here.

Takki,

The council’s visitors’ book in the town hall reception will show I turned up in good time, at 7.20pm from memory. When I stood in the doorway of the public gallery well before 7.30pm, there were no free seats in the front row. That’s why you were asked by one of your colleagues on my behalf why there were no seats reserved. The answer you gave was that they’d been given up for the public because reporters hadn’t responded to an email.

In an earlier email to me this morning you said Adam Barnett of the ELA had responded to that email, yet he was seated four or five rows back. And he arrived well before me.

You also said in an email this morning: “you would have had a seat had you arrived on time as two rows were reserved for the press.”

So can you please confirm those two rows were reserved exclusively for the press? How many seats was that? How many journalists responded to your email and how does that number correspond to the number of press seats? How many journalists were actually sitting in those press seats?

And can you reconfirm that those “unused” seats were only released to the public at 7.30pm.

Ted

All good questions.

What’s your answer Mr Sulaiman?

Or am I not allowed to ask questions of you? For that matter is Ted?

Maybe there is a list of journalists you permit questions from? If there is can you publish it?

Whatever the answer please let me and the rest of the borough know.

Further Information

For the background information on this issue check out Trial by Jeory.

For all Trial by Jeory posts tagged with ‘Takki Sulaiman” click here. (There are quite a few).


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  1. You could not make it up says:

    How exactly does giving up press seats to the public comply with the Council’s statutory duty to make facilities available to the press?

    Takki appears to be completely unaware of the law and regulations relating to the access to Council Meetings by people intending to report the proceedings.

    There is no requirement in law for those reporting proceedings to have to notify their intention to attend in advance. I also find the email system very odd – how exactly does Takki the demigod divine in advance which journalists will turn up so he can send them an email in advance?
    * What about those who will attend who have not received an email?
    * What about the fact that it’s common practice for people to turn up for the part of the meeting they are interested in thus avoiding sitting through all the boring bits?

    There is an absolute requirement for the Council to make reasonable facilities available for the coverage and reporting of Council Meetings held in public. That applies to the whole meeting. Takki is unable in law to “give up” reasonable facilities to the public as to do so means he breaches the law and relevant regulations.

    Given the very high profile for the Council in the press due to its inability to conduct free and fair elections and count votes as fast as other Councils, it was reasonable to assume that future Council meetings may well attract a lot of attention from the Press.
    * Well done to Takki for anticipating this and reserving two rows of seats for journalists.
    * Shame on Takki for assuming he can determine when seats for journalists can be given up!

    I should think that press interest will continue now there are Trojan investigations across the UK – plus an exclusion of journalist. I trust Councillors will be asking questions as to how many seats are reserved for journalists for every Council meeting.

    “In the good old days” (I am, of course, referring to pre-Takki days) journalists attending meetings of Tower Hamlets Council used to have a table and chairs allocated as well as dedicated seats which were NEVER available to the public. That’s because they are reporters and NOT the public!

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