HRH The Countess of Wessex was guest of honour at the 10th Anniversary London Press Club Ball which took place at the Royal Courts of Justice last night ( 09/10/14) raising funds for the Journalists’ Charity in its 150th year.
The Countess already has a long association with the Journalists’ Charity, having opened its new care home, Dorking’s Pickering House in 2007. It also celebrates an enduring royal link with the charity going back to the reign of Queen Victoria. In May this year HM The Queen, patron of the Journalists’ Charity, attended with the HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, a special 150th anniversary celebration at Stationers’ Hall in London, just a stone’s throw from Fleet Street.
The glittering London Press Club Ball reached its landmark 10th anniversary as the highlight of the national media’s social and networking calendar, attended by editors, proprietors, senior journalists, executives, programme makers, household-name star columnists, TV and radio broadcasters. Having welcomed and introduced the Countess, Lord Rothermere, president of the Journalists’ Charity, warned that Britain’s 300-year-old free press is under attack as never before. Lord Rothermere warned of an “anti-press climate” and said journalists were being “crushed by the full weight of the law” – in sharp contrast with “those in the City whose greed almost caused our entire banking system to collapse”. He told the audience: “If we continue denigrating newspapers and undermining the work of the countless decent and honest journalists, not just in London but in every region, every town, we could end up destroying the very keystone upon which this country is built: freedom of speech.”
Keynote speaker Boris Johnson, who followed Lord Rothermere, said police should be banned from trawling journalists’ phone calls to identify whistleblowers without judicial approval. He said it was “crucial” that whistleblowers could be protected by journalists or they would not dare lifting the lid on scandals. “It is of course right that the police should be able to investigate serious criminal matters. But it is also crucial that journalists should be able to protect their sources and to give whistleblowers the confidence to come forward. And we will have to insist that in future the police will not be able to see a journalist’s phone records without some kind of judicial approval.”
The evening concluded with an exclusive silent ‘money-can’t-buy’ auction and tremendous live music from Let it Be. Much fun was had by all whilst raising much-needed funds for the Journalists’ Charity.
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