A reporter “in exile” from her patch after receiving death threats is to appear before MPs examining whether new legislation is needed to protect journalists.
John Whittingdale, Minister of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, has invited Amy Fenton to address a new National Committee for the Safety of Journalists, which has been set up to look at protection of journalists in the UK.
Amy, who works for South Cumbria daily The Mail, was forced to flee her home last month after receiving death threats online.
She remains “in exile” from the Mail’s patch with her young daughter at present due to the threats.
Amy, pictured, told HTFP: “John Whittingdale requested a meeting with me after he was made aware of my situation.
“He was very supportive and sympathetic – as well as shocked – after I described in detail what has happened over the last few weeks.
“He asked if I would meet with a new select committee, set up to look at protection of journalists in the UK, so that my experience can be considered by DCMS and Home Office ministers, as well as senior police officers, in assessing whether new legislation and guidelines need to be implemented.”
The threats came after serious allegations of sexual and physical abuse were made against a local businessman on social media, with some readers wrongly claiming there was a “conspiracy between the press and the police to cover up crimes” amid protests being held in Barrow-in-Furness over an alleged grooming gang operation.
Police in the town responded to the allegation by confirming a year-long investigation had found “no evidence” of a gang of men exploiting young women in Barrow.
Cumbria Police has confirmed investigations are ongoing into the threats, although no arrests have been made at this stage.
Mr Whittingdale told HTFP: “It is shocking that a professional journalist like Amy Fenton can be subjected to this kind of abuse in Britain today.
“It is why we are right to establish a National Committee for the Safety of Journalists and I am very pleased that Amy has agreed to speak at its first meeting.”