Sean Wallis 0

Defend UCLU Pi Media President - defend freedom of the press

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We, the undersigned, condemn the actions taken by University College London in threatening to dismiss Ms. Rebecca Pinnington, a 4th-year undergraduate, and President of the UCLU Pi Magazine, from the university, and wish to express our concern at this threat to the free operation of student press.

Ms. Pinnington published an article entitled “Head of UCL Estates leaves confidential documents publicly available” which stated that Pi Media had obtained and would be revealing the contents of some of these documents. She did not release these documents. However, if the Independent report on Saturday 12 March is correct, they include a forecast that UCL was on course to make a greater surplus out of student accommodation than had previously been claimed - which, if true, we believe would amount to a public-interest justification in publication. We note that on 10 March, UCL announced the freezing and reduction of student rents.

Consequently we have every reason to believe that Rebecca's actions were made in good faith and that she acted in accordance with the highest of journalistic values. We commend her bravery in coming forward with this story.

We view student journalism in the same esteem as that accorded to professional media and see its role as one of vital importance in holding the university, a prominent and significant public institution, to account. Independent journalism - whether noisy, boisterous, inconvenient, or disreputable - is the hallmark of a free society. Any infringement on journalists' right to operate without interference as part of the free press is of great concern to all of us.

Initial signatories include

Saladin Meckled-Garcia, UCL UCU President
Sean Wallis, UCL UCU Vice President and UCU NEC member
Ioanna Ioannou, UCL UCU Equality Officer and UCU NEC member
Tony Brown, UCL UCU Branch Secretary
Sue Chick, UCL UCU Executive Committee member
Helen Donoghue, UCL UCU Executive Committee member
Martin Fry, UCL UCU Executive Committee member
Andy Fugard, UCL UCU Executive Committee member
Geoff Williams, UCL UCU Executive Committee member

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