Saturday, October 28, 2006

"Banana Dictatorship" - Gale's View

The Thanet North MP and former current affairs journalist Roger Gale, has accused the government of "banana dictatorship tactics" in its endeavour to deny Independent Television News journalists full facilities in Iraq.

Roger Gale said:

"I spoke with the editor of ITN earlier in the week when the dispute between ITN and the MoD first emerged and at that time it seemed hopeful that commonsense would prevail.

Tonight's news reports indicate that the government is determined to "punish" ITN for its audacity in daring to report the truth as its journalists perceive it.

British journalists have reported upon the war in Iraq with great determination and courage and at Prime Minister's Question time this week Blair shed what must now be seen as crocodile tears over the death of one such television journalist.

That reporters have found it necessary to cover what they have regarded as the plight of British servicemen returning to the UK to be treated for battle injuries is a matter of fact. That Blair and his apologists find this uncomfortable should be no excuse for employing the tactics of a banana dictatorship and for trying to deny ITN journalists in Iraq full reporting facilities. The suggestion that "British servicemen cannot have confidence in the reporting" is, frankly, offensive. Servicemen and women and the British public will no doubt choose to believe either the journalist's assessment of Iraq and its casualties or the view of the authors and publisher of the "dodgy dossier".

I have just returned from a Festival of Remembrance in Margate where we celebrated the memory of those who gave their lives to defend our liberties - the greatest of which must be freedom of speech. I feel that it ill-behoves those in high places, up to and including the Prime Minister, to seek to gag our reporters because they do not like the message."

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