Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Victory: Hackney Gazette Will Not Publish BNP Advert

Here's the letter I (and probably everyone else who wrote in) got from editor Mick Ferris.

Thank you for your correspondence concerning the Hackney Gazette and advertisements from the British National Party.

All Archant titles firmly uphold the principles of neutrality, free speech, and compliance with the law. Although supporting democracy and freedom of speech we would not accept any advertisement from any organisation if the advertisement was any in way racist, homophobic, or stirred up religious hatred.

Irrespective of the aims and views of the BNP the advertisement complied with all legal requirements, regulations, and industry guidelines. The BNP is a legally constituted political party placing advertisements in the run up to the May 1st local elections in London. The decision to reject the BNP, for which we hold no brief, should be made by rational argument and at the ballot box, not by censorship by newspapers. That remedy lies with the legally elected politicians at Westminster.

Our decision on whether to publish or not is based on the nature of the local community. Our editors have to balance the need to be consistent in our approach with a desire not to damage the community in which they operate, a process which has been made more difficult by a clearly orchestrated campaign of complaints.

We have concluded that it is not in the best interests of the community to publish the advertisement in the Hackney Gazette. Nor is it right to give the BNP further publicity through a prolonged public debate about the merits of the organisation and its advertising campaign.

The balance of arguments in this debate has been extremely difficult but we believe that we have come to the right conclusion.

Mick Ferris
Hackney Gazette

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