Suella Braverman only invites right-wing media on taxpayer-funded Rwanda trip
The top Tory landed in the central African nation on Friday, and took journalists from outlets including GB News, the Daily Mail, the Express, and the Telegraph.
Other media which does not align with her politics, such as the Guardian, the Mirror, and the BBC, were not invited – despite the trip being paid for out of the public purse.
The Guardian said it had written to the Home Office’s permanent secretary “to ask for an explanation of how this has happened”.
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The outlet said in statement: “We are deeply concerned to learn that – once again – journalists from the Guardian and other news organisations appear to have been excluded from reporting on a taxpayer-funded trip to Rwanda to discuss a flagship government policy.
“Excluding journalists who provide scrutiny of key policies is not only damaging to press freedom, which the UK Government claims to champion, but may also contravene the government’s own propriety guidance on dealing impartially and evenhandedly with members of the media.”
Index on Censorship editor at large Martin Bright said: “We are concerned to hear that journalists from organisations judged to be critical of the government’s immigration policy have not been invited … Democracy depends on an open and transparent relationship between government and the media, where all journalists are able to scrutinise the government.
“Index on Censorship believes that access to government ministers, both domestically and as part of international visits, should not be treated as a reward for favourable coverage.”
Braverman embarked on her first full day in Rwanda as Home Secretary on Saturday as she set out to reaffirm her commitment to the UK Government’s deportation policy.
No migrants have been relocated to the country so far as the deal, which was signed last April by Braverman’s predecessor Priti Patel, remains embroiled in legal battles.
Ahead of her trip, the Home Secretary said the plan “will act as a powerful deterrent against dangerous and illegal journeys”.
Braverman is due to meet President Paul Kagame and her counterpart Vincent Biruta to discuss the deal.
She will also meet with investment start-up professionals and entrepreneurs, to discuss the range of business and employment opportunities available in Rwanda.
The Government’s plan to forcibly remove migrants to the African nation is currently grounded by the courts – with asylum seekers being told on Tuesday they could appeal against Home Office decisions to relocate them.
A group of individuals from countries including Iran, Iraq and Syria are aiming to overturn rulings made by two High Court judges in December – who dismissed a series of legal bids against the Government’s plan.