Subject: Freedom of press to report on Tower Hamlets council
Date: 11 June 2014
Dear Mr Sulaiman
I am writing to ask what further measures you will be taking to restrict the ability of the press to report on the workings of Tower Hamlets council?
My understanding is that in the council meeting of 11 June 2014 you attempted to restrict the ability of Ted Jeory to report on council proceedings by seating him at the back of the meeting. In previous meetings Ted Jeory has, as a journalist, been allowed to sit at the front of the meeting.
Why did you decide to move Ted Jeory to the back where his view was obscured by a pillar and he would not be able to properly observe proceedings?
When Mr Jeory rightly protested against this blatant attempt to hinder his work you then decided to use Tower Hamlets security officers to eject Mr Jeory from the council chamber and the Town Hall.
Ted Jeory is the only independent journalist to properly cover East End politics and many rely on his reports and real time blogs of events in Tower Hamlets council meetings. His work is essential.
You seem very keen to silence him. This won’t happen but residents of the borough would like to know why you are trying to muzzle the free press? Especially as residents pay your £100,000 salary.
Can you tell the borough what level of co-operation you require of journalists before they are given proper access to council meetings? Just so we can all be clear.
I understand that at the same council meeting from which you saw fit to eject Mr Jeory, East End Life staff were given a reserved seat at the front. Is this correct?
Can I infer from this that those who adhere to the Tower Hamlets council / Tower Hamlets First party political line will be provided with proper access to report while those who question the motives and actions of the council will be obstructed?
I would just like to know so I can save the D3 bus fare to the next council meeting.
Also will this restriction on the press be extended to the rest of the borough? Will you at some point ban the sale of local and national newspapers in newsagents in Tower Hamlets that criticise the current administration?
Oh and the rest of the United Kingdom would like to know your general attitude to one of the basic pillars of a democratic society. A free press.
You see you can’t pick and choose what gets reported. That’s called censorship.
Update 21.30 hours 11 June 2014
And here is the reply within only a few minutes of posting. Completely inadequate of course, but then what do you expect? Round robin so no mention of the pesky ‘freedom of the press’ thing.
Reply from Takki
Dear Mr Hai
Thank you for your email.
As per usual a number of regular local journalists including Mr Jeory were group emailed asking if they wanted a seat reserved for tonight’s very packed council meeting. They were asked to respond if they wanted a seat. No response was received from Mr Jeory although a number of others did.
Mr Jeory turned up and was upset he did not have a reserved seat complaining that one of my team had a seat. I pointed out that my team member is disabled which is why she has a seat and that was when he called me a pr**k….twice. He has admitted this on his twitter feed.
Being a council employee does not mean I should be verbally abused.
In addition contrary to another of Mr Jeory’s tweets I gave up my seat for a member of the public.
The council AGM is a formal occasion and reasonable behaviour is expected of all attendees.
Service Head, Communications and Marketing
Tower Hamlets Council
London E14 2BG