A local newspaper has complained of being “snubbed” by David Cameron, just 24 hours after he apologised to a regional daily’s reporter over a similar issue.
Bedfordshire on Sunday journalist Stephen Penn had been told he would be allowed to put two questions to Mr Cameron prior to a visit to Bedford on Wednesday.
However, after making a speech, the Prime Minister said he had “little time” for questions and only took three – from the BBC, ITV and Sky News.
As reported on HTFP yesterday, Mr Cameron apologised to the Huddersfield Daily Examiner over complaints its journalists were treated with “disdain” by his entourage earlier this month.
In a follow-up visit on Tuesday, he told the Examiner’s local government reporter Joanne Douglas an “administrative muck-up” had been to blame.
Following the incident in Bedford, a story appeared on the BoS website accusing Mr Cameron of “snubbing the local media,” an accusation which was later removed although the story confirms that no questions from local newspapers had been allowed.
Stephen told HTFP: “We were sent the invite on Tuesday for the event, and were asked to provide a question or two that we might ask.
“When we got there we were told there wasn’t time to answer many questions, and while he started the questions by inviting regional papers to come forward, he answered three – from the BBC, ITV and Sky News – that were there. Then he left.
“It seemed that the regional websites of the larger news bodies were looked upon higher than us as a local newspaper.
“It was disappointing that more time was not given for questions, but it was equally as disappointing to be overlooked in favour these three organisations, as we are unlikely to get the opportunity to ask these questions of the PM in this forum again ahead of the election.”
The new complaint comes as Paul Geater, political reporter at the East Anglian Daily Times, claimed he was told by Ben Gummer, Conservative candidate for Ipswich, that campaigners expected local newspaper reporters to be “19-year-olds who don’t understand the subject”.
Paul, who is covering his sixth General Election, told HTFP: “It is really frustrating. They seem to have this contempt for local newspapers rather than other forms of the media. It is just irritating.”
Other criticisms of the Tories’ treatment of the regional press during the General Election campaign have come from the Nottingham Post, The Yorkshire Post and the Milton Keynes Citizen. The Conservative Party has yet to respond to HTFP’s requests for a comment on the issue.