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Two NUJ journalists ejected from Blair school visit

Oscar Beard | 10.09.2006 16:14 | Education | Repression | London | World

Two NUJ journalists are ejected as Prime Minister Tony Blair visits St. John's Wood, North London.

On Thursday 7 September Prime Minister Tony Blair visited Quintin Kynaston in St John's Wood, North London, around 2pm to announce further private corporate investment into the technology school .

Whilst there, being hounded by a few anti-war demonstrators and a hoard of angry school children who had been removed from the school, Blair announced his imminent departure as premiere of the country - the BBC reporting his removal from Downing Street as 4 May, 2007.

During the visit two NUJ registered journalists were removed from the area outside the front of the school, where a press pen had been set up to cage the rowdy and unruly media, and were forced 100 metres down the road behind metal barricades with the other demonstrators.

One journalist was almost immediately ejected when he pulled out two small Lebanon flags. He showed his NUJ card to one policeman, who then asked a senior officer whether the man should be treated as press or a protestor.

Without checking the validity of the press card the senior officer said: “He’s a protestor, remove him.”

Fifteen minutes before the arrival of Blair a second video journalist was approached by one plain clothes officer who identified himself as Inspector Frost. He challenged the journalist’s press credentials, took the press card and said he was going to check it, adding he was unhappy with the journalist’s conduct.

The officer disappeared leaving the journalist waiting by several police officers. After several minutes a second officer, an Inspector Hedderman, returned with backup, told the journalist his card could not be validated and he would have to leave the area.

The journalist argued his right to be in the press pen and demanded to know why his card could not be validated and what was his unruly conduct, as he claimed he did nothing different to any other journalist there.

Ten minutes before the arrival of Blair the journalist was forced to join the protestors far away from the main gates and the approcahing PM.

The journalist later told this old hack that he too checked the validation phone number to verify his own card, only to find his name and NUJ pin number was no longer on the computer system.

“This is very strange,” he said. “I have been stopped and checked many times before and my press card is always validated. This is the first time this has happened to me, but not the first time I have been halted from filming.”

The journalist added he found it strange the police had been watching him the entire time he was at the school filming, nearly two hours before the arrival of Blair, but left it till the last few minutes to eject him, giving no chance to rectify the obvious error and continue his job.

Blair’s arrival was met with huge opposition. School children screamed “Out, out, out,” calling Blair a murder and a butcher, and one burned a “Blair Out” placard whilst others stamped on it, an obvious sign of visible anger, even in children as young as ten years.

Needless to say the news reports that day did not catch the general feeling of the hundreds of school children, many from the Middle East and of Muslim religion. The news showed a few screened and selected children who seemed happy to meet the PM.

Several young English students told this journalist they had begun a campaign the previous day to oppose the Blair visit, only to join the others in being ejected from the school at midday.

Teachers from the school spent the time before the Blair visit in the street stripping anti-Blair placards from the children and demanding they go home immediately. This most children refused and stayed until the PM was well inside the building.

Oscar Beard
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Display the following 2 comments

  1. Press cards STINK — Dave tog
  2. silly question perhaps but.... — ben