International journalists condemn draconian Tory media accreditation policy

The decision sets a 'dangerous precedent' for countries all over the world

Journalists from around the world have expressed their ‘fierce’ opposition against accreditation fees imposed for the Tory Party Conference this Autumn.

Almost 300 international journalists have now signed an open letter calling on the Official Conservative Party Press Office to remove the charges placed on journalists who wish to cover the upcoming Tory Party Conference.

The media accreditation fee was first introduced at last year’s conference by the Tories and will again be imposed for their conference in Manchester this October. It will rise from £137, to £880 from 1 August.

According to the Foreign Press Association (FPA), one of the oldest associations for foreign journalists, there are no other comparable charges in any other country in the world, which they have said sets a ‘dangerous precedent’ against media scrutiny of the political process.

The open letter states: “We believe that a fundamental tenet of a free and democratic society is allowing journalists – from all over the world – to freely report on matters of public interest.

“We have not found any comparable charges in any other country in the world, let alone in any other democracy.

“It is a shame that the UK, part of the Media Freedom Coalition, co-organiser of the very first Media Freedom Conference in the world, a country with a proud tradition of press independence, should be the first to effectively tax journalists for doing their job. As observers of this country we feel the need to speak out.”

The association has been told that the charges are for administrative reasons to cover for ‘thousands’ of no-shows, however the associate argued that there is no proof of these no-shows and that there is no comparable event that requires journalists to pay for coverage.

The FPA added: “In fact, this decision sets a dangerous precedent for countries all over the world who will use this decision to justify financial and other barriers to media scrutiny of the political process.

“We therefore call upon the Tory party conference organisers to scrap or refund the charges and allow fair and free reporting for all.”

The letter has been signed by significant news agencies from over 60 countries, from Japan to Canada.

A widespread media boycott has been predicted at the conference this Autumn.

(Photo credit: Sky News / YouTube screenshot)

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