AddThis SmartLayers

Industry rallies behind daily journalists after reporter forced to flee home

Vanessa SimsAn editor has thanked supporters across the country rallying behind her journalists after a death threat forced one reporter to flee her home.

Vannessa Sims, of South Cumbria daily the Mail, says support from both local and national sources has “reinforced our resolve” to keep providing reliable news after chief reporter Amy Fenton and her daughter were moved into police protection over the weekend.

A gang of men also abused her colleagues at The Mail’s Barrow-in-Furness office in a separate incident.

The threats came after serious allegations of sexual and physical abuse were made against a local businessmen on social media, and protests have been held in the town over an alleged grooming gang operation.

Police says they have found “no evidence” of a gang of men exploiting young women in Barrow.

A woman, 19, has been arrested and charged with seven counts of perverting the course of justice. She has been remanded into custody and has been refused bail.

A 30-year-old man, from Barrow, has also been arrested on suspicion of threats to kill following an incident in the early hours of 20 May. The arrest is not related to Amy.

Both cases have been covered by The Mail.

Vanessa, pictured, told HTFP: “The overwhelming support both Amy and the team have received in recent days has been completely uplifting.

“While we knew what we were reporting was factual and responsible the barrage of abuse we have faced has been nothing short of intimidation and bullying.

“The support we have had, locally and nationally, has reinforced our resolve to continue to provide top quality trusted news that our readers can rely on.

“I’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has reached out to both me and Amy – your support has meant a lot.”

The Newsquest chapel of the National Union of Journalists met last night, and offered support and solidarity to Amy and her colleagues.

Fed Bedendo, Newsquest NUJ group chapel MoC, said: “My colleagues and I are appalled at what has happened to Amy. As local journalists we don’t just work in the communities we serve, but we are part of them and care about them.

“For anyone to think any different is simply foolish. It is unacceptable to issue violent threats to a woman and her family, under the pretext of raising awareness of alleged violence against another woman.

“No journalist deserves to be put through what Amy and her little girl are experiencing and we want Amy to know we are all behind her.”

Chris Morley, the NUJ’s Newsquest coordinator, said: “Receiving online abuse for professionally reporting the important issues affecting local communities has been commonplace for many years and has unfortunately become something of an occupational hazard for our members.

“But the threats of physical violence against Amy and her daughter have shocked even the most experienced of our members. There is real determination among Amy’s fellow NUJ members that this vicious bullying of workers doing their jobs will not succeed.

“A national meeting of fellow Newsquest union reps last night condemned the actions of the social media mob hounding colleagues in Barrow in the strongest terms and expressed their solidarity and support for Amy and her fellow members.

“The NUJ will always stand up to protect journalism and, particularly its members, when they are subject to threats. The wave of supportive messages from NUJ branches and chapels around the country, along with those being shared by the public on social media shows quality journalism cannot be defeated.”