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English Churchman Story Draws Protest from Anglican Communion Office

English Churchman Story Draws Protest from Anglican Communion Office

The front page story in the last edition regarding press access to the upcoming Lambeth Conference prompted a Letter to the Editor and a press release in protest from the Anglican Communion Office.

The protest was over the publication of a direct quote from the website’s “Media Pack” information download.

The offending portion said, “The Lambeth Conference reserves the right to deny or withdraw accreditation of journalists from media organisations whose activities run counter to the principles of the spirit of the conference, or put the accreditation to improper use or act in a way not consistent with the principles of the organisation.”

In protest off that quote, Gavin Drake, Communications and IT Director at the Anglican Communion Office in London, wrote; 

“Your front-page article “Lambeth Conference to Restrict Media Access” is based on a misunderstanding of a standard condition of media accreditation for conferences and events.

“Media accreditation is provided to enable journalists from recognised media organisations to report the event — and to take whatever editorial line they wish to take.

“Media accreditation is not provided to enable protestors to campaign against events and the organisations running them, using conference facilities and privileged access to bona fide journalists.”

His response markedly differs from the clear reading of the words found on the website.  The subjective nature of “reserves the right to deny or withdraw accreditation” is plain enough for anyone to understand.

The EC enquired of journalists that covered Lambeth 1998 and Lambeth 2008 as to whether or not such strictures were placed upon the media for those conferences.  None had ever heard of such restrictions.

In further correspondence Mr Drake elaborated his reasoning, 

“As a journalist I have covered many international events, including NATO Summits, G7/G8 Meetings, European Council meetings and international commemorations. Such a clause is standard in the terms of accreditation. It means that journalists will use accreditation to report on the conference rather than use accreditation to run their own PR campaigns or to campaign against the conference. The sentence is clear that it is about activities of accredited journalists rather than any belief that they may or may not have.”

Readers are asked to judge for themselves.