The Sunday Telegraph’s City pages were accused of being an
’offshoot of the PR industry’, at an employment tribunal this week.
Veteran financial journalist Patrick Weever is claiming constructive
dismissal from his job as deputy City editor earlier this year.
Weever says he clashed with the paper’s City editor, Neil Bennett, over
the extent to which journalists should pander to PR contacts.
Weever is criticising a dozen or so consultancies who act as ’highly
influential gatekeepers to corporate Britain’ and not the Sunday
Telegraph for taking the stories.
He said public relations consultancies often provide exclusive stories
in breach of Stock Exchange and Takeover Panel rules, and arguably break
laws on insider trading.
Weever is particularly critical of the ’Friday night drop’, where City
PROs, or ’drop masters’, promise exclusive stories in return for
Bennett, Weever claims, was convinced of the drop’s importance and
became less keen on stories which ’offended the drop masters, or indeed
the great and the good’.
Mr Andrew Hochhauser QC, acting for the Sunday Telegraph, compared the
drop to the lobby system in Parliament.
The Telegraph denies constructive dismissal saying Weever had complained
of ill-health and had left the Sunday Telegraph for a new job at the
Indpendent on Sunday.
The case continued as PR Week went to press.