Business Secretary Sajid Javid has snubbed a media briefing at which two regional dailies who campaigned for the government to intervene in a steel crisis on their patches were present.
Both the Northern Echo and Teesside Gazette were invited to the briefing at which Mr Javid, pictured left, was due to announce an £80m support package for the 1,700 steelworks who lost their jobs after the SSI plant was shut.
However, when journalists arrived for the briefing in Redcar they were told he had already left.
Shortly before the briefing had been due to take place it was announced SSI had been liquidated.
Northern Echo business editor Andy Richardson told HTFP: “When we got there we were told the Business Secretary wouldn’t be available and he’d gone. All we’d get would be (Business Minister) Anna Soubry for interview.
“She was put up and she talks a good game with a good grasp of what’s going on, but what I couldn’t understand was why the Business Secretary had gone because it was an emergent story down here.”
Three weeks ago SSI has announced it was “pausing” steel production at the facility, leading the Echo to launch a ‘Save Our Steel’ campaign urging the government to intervene.
The Gazette website was first to announce the mothballing of the plant online last Monday.
Other media organisations present at Friday’s briefing included the BBC and ITV.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills told HTFP there had “never really been a particular plan” for Mr Javid to speak with the regional press.
However, an invite sent to journalists about the briefing specifically mentioned Mr Javid by name as one of the attendees.
The Gazette was able to interview Mr Javid over the phone later on Friday.
Mr Javid previously declared his support for the regional press, saying in April there was an “obvious” public interest in having journalists situated at the heart of the communities they serve.
Andy added: “The response we had from readers was real cynicism. He didn’t front up to a number of big questions as to why the government wasn’t stepping in.
“I’ve had letters, phone calls and emails from readers getting really angry and frustrated that the government didn’t seem to do anything.”