Reporters 'locked in room and banned from filming' on Theresa May factory visit

'The level of media control here is far and above anything I've seen before,' says journalist

Jon Sharman
Wednesday 03 May 2017 07:04 BST
The Prime Minister meets employees during a visit to AP Diving in Cornwall
The Prime Minister meets employees during a visit to AP Diving in Cornwall (PA)

Local news reporters claim they were locked in a room by Theresa May's press officers as the Prime Minister toured a factory during an election campaign visit.

Cornwall Live claimed its reporter was shut away in a room while Ms May visited the Water-Ma-Trout industrial estate in Helston.

In a live blog, the site said: "We've been told by the PM's press team that we were not allowed to stand outside to see Theresa May arrive.

"Theresa May is being introduced to company representatives on the shop floor, but journalists have been kept away. We'll be allowed to ask her questions later in a separate room.

"Having covered several high-profile politicians' and royal visits over the years, the level of media control here is far and above anything I've seen before. We're not even allowed to show you her visiting the building.

"Media were locked in a room. Conservative party press officers continue to refuse Cornwall Live access to film an interview with the PM."

Cornwall Live posted this image from inside the room
Cornwall Live posted this image from inside the room (Cornwall Live)

The site's deputy head of content, Steve Smith, said on Twitter: "Never known a visit like this. Our reporters banned from watching PM walk around a factory by @Conservatives PR team."

His colleague, Jeff Raines, added: "We weren't allowed to film her and our reporters were even locked in a room. Democracy in action that is."

Cornwall Live's digital editor, Jacqui Merrington, said other media outlets were allowed to record video and interviews with Ms May on the shop floor.

She told The Independent: "I think we were invited to interview the Prime Minister at the factory and we were shut in the room until such time as she could give us three minutes. We wanted to film that three-minute interview.

"I certainly think times have changed. There's less of a distinction between broadcast media and print media. We're all digital. It does seem archaic that we're treated very differently still."

It came after Ms May was accused of "hiding" from voters in Aberdeenshire, where locals discovered her visit at Crathes village hall had been listed as a child's birthday party.

Kevin Newell, 34, said he was shocked to find the listing on the venue’s website hours after attempting to put "serious questions" to the Prime Minister.

"It’s been so secretive, they are supposed to be holding these big rallies but all she’s doing is hiding in little village halls, not saying they are going to be there."

Asked specifically about concerns that local people in Crathes were ignored even when the Prime Minister had visited the community on Saturday, a party spokesperson told The Independent: "The Prime Minister has visited cities, large and small towns and yesterday she visited a rural community.

"She has been in the three nations of Great Britain since the start of the campaign. In contrast, Corbyn yesterday ventured all of two miles from his own house to give a speech about himself."

A Conservative Party spokeswoman said: "One media organisation’s last minute request to add a camera to a pre-arranged pool of broadcast cameras was not possible this morning.

"The organisation’s journalists did interview the Prime Minister and their photographer accompanied the Prime Minister on a factory tour.

"Theresa May has so far taken four times as many questions from journalists as floundering Jeremy Corbyn while his cabinet can’t even answer basic questions about how they would pay for his nonsensical policies."

No one was locked in a room, she added.

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