Author: Helen Lambourne, July 9, 2013
Reporters from two weekly newspapers were refused entry to an event attended by Prime Minister David Cameron which was attended by the Press Association and international titles. The Wandsworth Guardian and rival weekly South London Press did not receive invitations to a ground-breaking ceremony at Battersea Power Station last Thursday and were not allowed entry when their reporters attended.
The event, which was also attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak and London mayor Boris Johnson, was held to mark the start of work at the 39-acre site, including the creation of 3,500 luxury new homes and leisure developments, and was organised by the Battersea Power Station Development Company.
Jamie Henderson – Chief Reporter at Wandsworth Guardian said “it was disappointing not to be allowed entry because the paper had reported on the future of the site for many years. We thought an invitation would come from them. I thought I would go down anyway to see what was happening.
“We knew there would be protesters there because we found out about the arrival of David Cameron. Their press officer eventually came out and I thought they would let us in but they told us the press area was full.”
“It is pretty galling really that we have not only given this much support to the project but local people want to know through our newspaper what is going on. The reports in the nationals didn’t report on anything to do with the local area. There was nothing about Wandsworth or the people who are hopefully going to get jobs.”
The Wandsworth Guardian has won the support of a number of Local Councillors and the Public and Commercial Services Union which was protesting at the event.
Cathy Cook, London Campaign Manager for PCS, told the paper:
“At a time when the country is in economic crisis the Prime Minister prioritising a meeting about luxury penthouse flats is a disgrace.”
“What we think is even more of a disgrace is that the local press were denied access to this meeting today. The local press has a major interest in what is going in its locality and its readership will be interested to know that their journalist was not allowed in.”
Having not being allowed access South London Press reporter James Cracknell the day before the event tweeted: “So, a big-name VIP is going to be at Battersea Power Station tomorrow for a ground-breaking ceremony. But I’m not allowed to say who. I’ve also been banned from attending because the South London Press doesn’t qualify as important media.”
On the day of the ceremony, he tweeted: “I was escorted off the premises of Battersea Power Station this morning by a security guard the size of a house. Oh dear.”
The Battersea Power Station Development Company declined to comment.
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