Steerpike

Speaker hits back in press gagging row

Speaker hits back in press gagging row
AMIR MAKAR/AFP via Getty Images
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Rows in Parliament usually occur on the floor of the House of Commons, between opposing members of different sides. But a fresh storm is brewing elsewhere in the chamber, between the journalists who comprise the parliamentary press gallery and the man who occupies the Speakers' Chair. After the grandstanding of the John Bercow era, Lindsay Hoyle was hailed by the lobby as a breath of fresh air when he was elected to the Speakership back in November 2019. 

But now two-and-a-half years on, there are signs that all is not well between Hoyle and members of the Fourth Estate. First, there was last month's row over Angela Rayner's legs, which prompted the Speaker to summon the Mail on Sunday's editor to appear before him and explain the newspaper's coverage. 

And now Private Eye has reported this week that 'hacks at Westminster have established that at least ten of them have been called in for a post-publication ticking-off' by the Speaker. Such cases include one reporter who cited expense claims made available by independent pay body Ipsa and subsequently received a warning from Hoyle that such coverage 'created a risk to parliamentarians' safety.' Another claims to have received a ticking-off over coverage about sexual harassment issues in Parliament.

Asked for Hoyle's response to such cases and whether they constituted an infringement on press freedom, a spokesman for the Speaker’s Office told Mr S that: 'The Speaker has always had a good relationship with journalists and has gone out of his way to make those who work here feel very much part of the parliamentary community. He meets them on a regular basis to discuss all manner of things.'

Looks like this one is only going to run and run...

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk or message @MrSteerpike

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