English Defence League EDL

Members of the English Defence League at the far-right group's recent East London rally

Credit: Yui Mok/PA

The National Union of Journalists intends to call on delegates at the TUC conference to publicly condemn alleged attacks on the press by members of the English Defence League.

The union has submitted an emergency motion to the conference over the alleged attacks, which it claims included a photographer being set on fire and another journalist sexually assaulted at an EDL rally earlier this month.

The motion, which the
NUJ hopes to have accepted and added to the agenda of the conference today, calls on TUC members to publicly condemn the actions of the EDL, as well as campaigning against far-right groups and offering assistance to affiliate unions if their members are threatened.

It also calls on the police
to take action to identify and prosecute EDL supporters who attack trade unionists.

The NUJ claims to have received numerous reports of journalists being harassed, racially abused, and having bottles and fireworks thrown at them by the anti-Islamic group.

The motion submitted to the TUC conference calls the alleged attacks "
a violation of press freedom and an attack on our democracy".

Far-right attacks on media workers are aimed at deterring them from carrying out their work and are designed to intimidate trade union members and stop the media reporting on far-right activity," it adds.

A spokesperson for the Met police confirmed that the the force was investigating an allegation of assault at the rally in which a 17-year-old had his clothing set alight and suffered minor burns.

No arrests have been made over the incident.

Speaking to the Press Gazette, an eye-witness backed up the union's description of the attacks and accused the EDL of a "
history of attacking members of the media".

"I think they turn on photographers because we are more visible than writers who can blend in more easily," he said.

"They don’t like journalists covering their events because it leads to reports and pictures coming out showing their violence."

The TUC delegates unanimously backed a separate motion from the NUJ yesterday afternoon, which called for a legal "conscience clause" to be introduced that would protect journalists from being dismissed as a result of standing up against pressure to take part in unethical activities.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet told the conference that Rupert Murdoch's union-busting tactics during the dispute over News International's move to Wapping had led to a "moral vacuum" at the company.

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