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Weekly piles pressure on MP over failure to talk to its journalists

Joe WalkerA weekly newspaper has turned up the heat on an MP over her failure to talk to its journalists.

The Kentish Gazette has increased the pressure on Rosie Duffield, Labour MP for Canterbury, after she used a national interview to criticise her local newspaper.

Ms Duffield claimed in an interview with the Daily Telegraph that her local paper had “dedicated quite a lot of column inches” to her private life since she became an MP in 2017, provoking an angry response from editor Joe Walker.

Joe, pictured, cited just three examples of such coverage by the Gazette in the past five years and criticised the lack of access she has given to his paper during her time as an elected representative.

The Gazette has now published a lengthy editorial about Ms Duffield, revealing her last sit-down interview with one of its reporters had been ahead of the 2019 General Election and noting her “apparent preference” for speaking to national journalists following another recent interview with Times Radio.

The Gazette’s editorial stated: “Predictably, in neither of the recent interviews Ms Duffield gave was she challenged directly on any of the claims about her work as an MP.

“We are keen to do just this, but our efforts to speak with her have been repeatedly rejected without explanation.

“Her apparent preference to speak to national journalists is something we’ve become frustratingly accustomed to since she was re-elected in 2019.”

The Gazette went on to claim Ms Duffield’s office does not send out press releases, nor alert it to any of her local engagements.

Earlier this month, Joe emailed Ms Duffield “expressing his disappointment – and mystification – that she is choosing not to engage with the paper” and again inviting her to take part in a sit-down interview.

He has not yet received a reply, according to the editorial.

The piece adds: “Difficult and valid questioning should be answered forthrightly and transparently, and not reframed as a personal attack.

“Ms Duffield is a public servant, elected by the public into a role paid for out of the public purse.

“The Gazette has no reason to believe her record will not stand up to scrutiny, but as long as she chooses not to engage with her local paper, many of our readers – our MP’s constituents – will continue to be left in the dark.”

HTFP has approached Ms Duffield’s office for a response to the Gazette’s editorial.