New Newspaper Conference Chair Hits Out At Anti Press Campaigners

Patrick Daly, the new chairman of the Newspaper Conference, has hit out at anti-press campaigners after he was forced to defend local journalism following the Lords votes for press freedom curbs last week. 

Following the votes Patrick, parliamentary correspondent for the Bristol Post, Hull Daily Mail and Grimsby Telegraph, was criticized on Twitter by a Plymouth councillor who he wrote a story about more than two years ago.   

The Herald, Patrick’s paper at the time, alleged that the councillor had been dismissed from a job with the police after calling in sick to canvas to become an MP. Mr Sparling has denied the allegation.  

Last week, the councillor accused him of writing a “false, shit story” about him in 2015, citing it as evidence that Leveson 2 should go ahead before branding Patrick “a plonker,” The Daily Mail reported.  

In response, Patrick republished the story on Twitter and invited the public to “to decide for themselves if a free press is a good idea.”

Patrick said: “What worries me about Leveson 2 and Section 40 is the prospect that local newspapers could be wiped out in one fell swoop if we do not sign-up to a state-approved regulator. That would see both local accountability and livelihoods vanish even though the paper did nothing wrong.

“It could also mean less exposes into the behaviour of public figures, with editors less keen to back their journalists’ exclusives if it means having to get the lawyers involved. As much as some anti-free press campaigners might like that, it would be dreadful for democracy.

“During my time as chair of the regional lobby, I want to ensure better access for regional newspaper political journalists, who report on the events in Westminster for their communities up and down the UK, so we can keep breaking the scoops we’re known for.”

Patrick was recently appointed chair of the Newspaper Conference representing London editors and political correspondents of News Media Association member regional newspapers, replacing Kate Langston who has left the regional lobby.

Patrick began his career at The Herald in Plymouth as a political correspondent and general news reporter before moving to the lobby in Westminister to work for Trinity Mirror daily titles in November 2015. 

Last week, the House of Lords voted in favour of a Leveson 2 style enquiry into the media industry and for a Section 40-style clause in the Data Protection Bill which would see newspapers forced to pay legal costs of claimants in data protection claims even if they won the case in court.