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Political journalists quiz Home Secretary at Conference lunch

Home Secretary John Reid was the guest speaker at a Newspaper Conference lunch at the House of Commons.

The lunch was hosted by John Hipwood, the newly-elected chairman of the Conference which comprises London editors and political correspondents of newspapers in membership from the Newspaper Society.

The event was attended by many regional press political journalists. The Home Secretary spoke about regional policing and community support officers, prisons and potential changes at the Home Office.

He was also quizzed on a variety of topics, including the Labour Party leadership, terrorism, open prisons, data sharing on foreign prisoners, ASBOs, gun crime and Guantanamo Bay.

The Conference revolves around a series of lunch meetings, at which senior politicians are invited to address the members and answer questions relevant to regional newspapers.

Tony Blair and David Cameron were among the guests last year.

John Hipwood, London editor for the Wolverhampton Express & Star and Shropshire Star, was elected as the new chairman of the Newspaper Conference at the AGM held before the lunch.

He has been a previous chairman of the Newspaper Conference and is also a former chairman of the Parliamentary Lobby Journalists and the Parliamentary Press Gallery at Westminster.

Mark Hookham, parliamentary lobby correspondent for the Bristol Evening Post, Swindon Evening Advertiser and North Wales Daily Post, was voted deputy chairman.

Jon Walker, political editor of the Birmingham Post, retained his position as vice-chairman of the Conference.