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Regional journalists banned from filming Rishi Sunak… or using the toilet

Oliver PridmoreRegional journalists were banned from photographing or filming Rishi Sunak – with one even being denied access to the toilet – when the Prime Minister visited their patch.

Reporters in the East Midlands were subjected to the “genuinely troubling” restrictions during a visit by Mr Sunak to Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.

Nottingham Post agenda editor Oliver Pridmore was shut in a football club changing room, along with three other journalists, for more than an hour while waiting for more than an hour to interview the PM in West Bridgford on a “baking” hot day on Wednesday.

They were then given one question each, rather than the total 10 minutes apparently promised to them, and were barred from taking pictures.

Oliver, pictured, wrote in a first-person piece about his experience for the Post: “It was not just the short amount of interview time that was troubling about Rishi Sunak’s Nottinghamshire visit either.

“Being kept inside the changing room meant that we were not able to observe any other aspect of the Prime Minister’s visit, and we were also banned from taking our own pictures, relying instead on an official Downing Street photographer.

The most farcical moment came when the Prime Minister left us, after having joked that being interviewed in a changing room had given him a “football manager vibe”. We were told that we could not leave the changing room for a few minutes, seemingly to allow the Prime Minister to completely clear the site.

“One reporter was even briefly denied the chance to go to the toilet, being told that we would be able to leave ‘soon’.

“This bizarre level of stage management was also on display in neighbouring Leicestershire, where Mr Sunak had been before West Bridgford.”

Earlier that day, the BBC’s East Midlands political editor Tony Roe was told Mr Sunak would only answer questions on microphone, rather than on camera.

The incidents come after Ben Fishwick, editor of Mr Sunak’s hometown newspaper the Southern Daily Echo, criticised the PM for refusing to speak to his journalists during a visit to Southampton in May.

Oliver added: “A degree of careful planning to ensure the Prime Minister looks good is always to be expected on the part of their entourage during a visit. When Boris Johnson once visited the offices of the Nottingham Post, his security quickly spotted a stray jester’s hat that they did not want to risk the Prime Minister popping on in front of our cameras.

“But with reporters banned from taking pictures, some broadcast journalists not being allowed to film the Prime Minister and a grown man being forced to ask press officers for permission to use the toilet, some of the handling of Mr Sunak’s Nottinghamshire visit was genuinely troubling.

“It is to be hoped that we are given a slightly less cultivated version of the Prime Minister next time, and that a little more space is given for him to answer serious questions on the issues that matter.”

HTFP has approached Downing Street for a comment.