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NUJ ban for Boston College researcher

Published 28/03/2013

A BOSTON College researcher who worked on the Dolours Price tapes has been suspended by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) after being found in breach of its code of ethics.

Former IRA prisoner Anthony McIntyre was found to have breached two clauses of the union's Rule 24 in relation to a series of online articles about fellow NUJ member and Irish News journalist Allison Morris.

Following an ethics council meeting held in London at the weekend, Mr McIntyre was found to have failed to follow the fundamental principles of journalism required of a union member.

The two clauses he was found to have breached were striving "to ensure that information disseminated is honestly conveyed, accurate and fair" and "does her/his utmost to correct harmful inaccuracies".

The ruling followed a sub-committee hearing held in January during which members considered a complaint made by Ms Morris about articles published on Mr McIntyre's blog The Pensive Quill.

Ms Morris complained to the union that the articles, including contributions by blogger Mark McGregor and journalist Ed Moloney, made inaccurate and malicious claims about her work and character that she believed placed her safety and that of her family at risk.

A former life-sentence prisoner, the west Belfast republican, who now lives in Co Louth, acted as a researcher on the Boston College Belfast project of which Mr Moloney was a director.

Mr McIntyre had attempted to delay the hearing claiming consideration of his conduct could have an adverse effect on other proceedings or litigation relating to the Boston College case.

However, the ethics council said it would be determining the complaint made by Ms Morris in respect of breach of the union's Code of Conduct only.

As a result of being found in breach of the code of ethics, Mr McIntyre has been reprimanded by the union and will be suspended from holding NUJ membership for six months.

Welcoming the ruling, Ms Morris said: "At a time when the industry is under scrutiny, this case is an example of how bloggers and online commentators... must be willing to abide by the same code of conduct and standards of practice as colleagues in the print media".

Kenny Archer, Irish News NUJ rep, said: "Allison Morris is a valued colleague and a strong motion in support of her and condemning Mr McIntyre's treatment of her was passed unanimously by fellow members of the Irish News NUJ chapel and forwarded to both the Irish and British executives of the NUJ."

Mr McIntyre plans to appeal the sanction.

"It's an attempt to censor me, both by The Irish News and by the ethics council. It is censorship by the NUJ," he said.

"How will I know if I'm suspended from the NUJ? What difference does it make? It's like telling me I've been suspended from the igloo builders of the Sahara. Why do we need Leveson when we have these people?”