28 May 2020 Lvl. 2
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Alert created on: 28 May 2020 n° 62/2020 United Kingdom

OpenDemocracy Journalist Banned from Asking Questions at UK Government's Daily Press Briefings

Source of threatState
CategoryOther acts having chilling effects on media freedom
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James Cusick is a political journalist who works for the UK-based online media outlet openDemocracy, which covers social and political issues globally.

Having previously worked for the BBC, the Sunday Times and the Independent, Cusick is a long-time parliamentary lobby pass holder – a pass reserved for a small group of political journalists who enjoy privileged access to certain parts of the UK government.

On 30 April 2020 Cusick was told that, as a reporter for openDemocracy, he would no longer be allowed to ask any questions at the UK government's daily press briefings, dedicated to providing updates on the Covid-19 pandemic.

The news reached Cusick via the Daily Mirror’s Pippa Crerar, who chairs the parliamentary lobby, of which Cusick is a member. She said that she had tried to argue openDemocracy’s case “to no avail”. According to openDemocracy, Crerar was eventually told that Cusick would no longer be allowed to ask questions because openDemocracy is a “campaigning” organisation.

Cusick had recently reported on serious flaws in the UK's Covid-19 testing regime.
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