NUJ demands end to threats against Newsquest's Cumbria reporter

Simon Austin's picture
Amy Fenton

The NUJ has condemned threats against Amy Fenton, Newsquest's chief reporter in South Cumbria, and demanded that they stop.

As Prolific North reported earlier, Fenton is having to stay in a secret location with constant police protection following violent threats issued on and off-line.  

Chris Morley, NUJ northern regional organiser, said: "Amy is a union member and a journalist working for a local newspaper. She has been following basic journalistic standards on reporting allegations and court proceedings. 

"The local newspaper she works for is an essential part of the local community. It is not expected that everyone should agree with all opinions or news reports but what is expected is that journalists' safety, well-being and the life of their family should never be threatened."

Fenton added: "Over the last week I’ve received in excess of 100 death threats and threats of unlawful violence - and there have been countless more which have been reported directly to the police by my colleagues.

"This isn’t the first time I’ve been subjected to vile abuse simply for doing my job, and for reporting the facts as the law dictates and as any qualified, experienced senior reporter would, but the extent and relentless barrage of coordinated abuse is unprecedented.

"While it isn’t the first time this has happened to me I’m determined that it will be last, by ensuring each and every one of these people faces the full force of the law.

"Not only have they threatened to 'throat punch' me, slit my throat, and set me on fire, but they have involved the welfare of my little girl and that is beyond acceptable. As a journalist I won’t tolerate anyone threatening me but as a mum I won’t tolerate anyone putting my daughter’s life at risk.

"But out of this there have also been so many examples of the best side of society - offers of support from so many people, and I’m also incredibly grateful for the way my colleagues, my bosses and employers, the NUJ, and reporters across the industry have 'had my back' and reminded me that this abuse comes from a small, ignorant minority of people who have no understanding of the way our constitutional judicial system works."

The threats followed protests in Barrow on Saturday about an alleged grooming operation in the town. A year-long police investigation had found “no evidence” of a gang of men exploiting young women in Barrow”, leading protestors to claim a cover-up by authorities and media.

In a separate case, a man was jailed for 20 weeks in February for making a rape threat against Fenton after she covered a court case in which he was convicted of threatening to blow up a hospital.