IMPRESS Excludes Board Members From Laura Kuenssberg Article Inquiry

Two IMPRESS board members have been recused from an investigation into an article by the Canary about the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg after they shared social media posts accusing her of being a propagandist for the Conservative Party.

A report in The Guardian yesterday said: “This is not the first time Impress has been embroiled in controversy due to social media activity. In September it published an internal report that concluded its chief executive had brought the organisation into disrepute and that his position would be untenable if the Daily Mail and the Sun had applied to join.”

In September, IMPRESS published an internal review Addressing Concerns About IMPRESS’ Impartiality: Final Report of the Internal Review Panel following concerns raised by the News Media Association and others about tweets distributed by IMPRESS chief executive Jonathan Heawood and a number of IMPRESS board members strongly criticising newspapers and senior journalists.  

The report found that sharing of tweets by Mr Heawood comparing the Daily Mail’s editorial position and fascism had led to a standards breach which brought IMPRESS into disrepute. The report also found that, along with Mr Heawood, board members Emma Jones and Máire Messenger Davies had breached IMPRESS’ internal standards by sharing material on Twitter.

The Guardian reported yesterday that Emma Jones and Máire Messenger Davies have been recused from an investigation into an article by the Canary which reported that Laura Kuenssberg was due to speak at a fringe event at the Conservative party conference. This was denied by the BBC.

The Guardian reported that Máire Messenger Davies and Emma Jones had retweeted posts, first highlighted by Press Gazette, questioning why Kuenssberg had been named journalist of the year at the British Journalism awards last year, and Jones retweeted a cartoon in January that included Kuenssberg wearing a “Vote Tory” sign on her back while interviewing Jeremy Corbyn alongside the line: “What you get when you have the Tories controlling the media including the BBC to spout their propaganda.”

They both retweeted a post about Kuenssberg being named journalist of the year that said: “Laura Kuenssberg ‘journalist of the year’. Oh. So THAT’s what journalism means? #Propaganda,” The Guardian reported.