Calling all NUJ Members 286

When a country’s main union for journalists polices the Overton window, you are in a society well on the way to authoritarianism. For four months I have been excluded from the National Union of Journalists and, despite repeated requests, the NUJ even refuses to tell me the nature of the objection.

140 days ago, on 5 March 2020, I applied online to renew my lapsed membership of the National Union of Journalists. For two months I heard nothing, then after inquiring I was told objections had been received to my membership. After two months more pressing I was told the objection is that I am not a “fit and proper person” to join the trade union. I still have no idea on what grounds this is alleged, or who alleges it.

A strange process is underway by which an investigation is carried out, and concluded, by the Assistant Secretary General and a report submitted to the National Executive. Only after the report is finalised do I get any opportunity to see what is alleged against me or to comment, which seems a quite remarkable proceeding.

The other thing that seems very wrong in this procedure is how objections were received and to whom my application was advertised. The system is supposed to work this way. The application is received by HQ, and is then sent within 14 days to your local branch for comment. That is the point at which objections can usually be lodged. My application has never been sent to my local branch, or anywhere. It has never left NUJ HQ. The local branch did not know the application existed until I asked a friend there to check on its progress, over two months after it was lodged.

In my case, my application has never even been sent to my local branch, where I was a member without incident for three years. Objections were lodged while my application was still at NUJ HQ.

But how can this happen? The NUJ claim that the delay in dealing with the objections (plural) is caused by the need to locate the objectors and verify their standing in the union. So if these objectors are so diverse and unknown to NUJ HQ, how did they find out about my membership application in order to object to it? The application was never sent out for comment or posted anywhere. The most obvious explanation is that somebody within the NUJ staff has tipped off some group to object.

I should explain the reason my membership had lapsed. I was a temporary freelance member for three years, which is open to those who get less than 50% of their income from journalism. If after three years you have not reached the 50% bar, you cannot continue as a member. I found myself unfortunately in that position.

As my other income has now mostly gone and there are now subscriptions to this blog, I applied to rejoin as soon as I met the income qualifying bar, after about a 3 year gap. It is worth noting I did not apply as a result of being charged with contempt of court – I applied some eight weeks before that happened. I am not seeking financial assistance from the union.

It is not the income question which is blocking my membership but the allegation I am not a “fit and proper person”. As I lead a pretty blameless personal life, this can only relate to my writings. I find this extremely sinister. It is certainly true that I write things that NUJ members within the mainstream media do not. It is certainly true that I attract massive criticism on social media from a section of mainstream journalists for my writings – on the Skripal case, for example.

But a National Union of Journalists which excludes writers for their opinions is a contradiction. I do not claim this as an absolute – out and out racists and fascists are a different thing. But the union is supposed to be a union for journalists, not for stenographers to power. I find the flat refusal of the NUJ to tell me what I am alleged to have done wrong to be particularly chilling. I find the entire process of handling my application, and the question of how these objections arose before the application was sent out for comment, deeply suspicious.

I therefore call on all members of the NUJ to raise this issue, either direct with NUJ HQ or preferably through your branch. It should not need saying, but strangely it does, that journalists whose political opinions are very different to my own ought still to support my right to be a member of the union. It exists to defend journalists, not to exclude them. If readers have contact with a probable NUJ member, I should be grateful if you could draw this matter to their attention and ask them to act.

I am very sorry to be obliged to publish this post. I am trying to rejoin the NUJ, not to pick a fight with it. My previous three year membership was entirely uneventful. I am a strong supporter of unions, that is why I am trying to rejoin one. But what is happening appears to be extraordinary and wrong. Who are these anonymous objectors and to what do they object? How did they find out I had applied before the application was sent out for comment? Who is behind this objection?

Below is my correspondence with the NUJ. Note that I applied for membership online on 5 March and the first email was received on 26 May, eleven weeks later, in reply to phone calls I made to ask what was happening.

Tomorrow will be precisely one month since I last heard from the NUJ. They still will not tell me what the objection is, 140 days since I submitted my application to rejoin.


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286 thoughts on “Calling all NUJ Members

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  • david

    Craig have a look at the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992, in particular:

    “174 Right not to be excluded or expelled from union.
    (1)An individual shall not be excluded or expelled from a trade union unless the exclusion or expulsion is permitted by this section.
    (2)The exclusion or expulsion of an individual from a trade union is permitted by this section if (and only if)—
    (a)he does not satisfy, or no longer satisfies, an enforceable membership requirement contained in the rules of the union,
    (b)he does not qualify, or no longer qualifies, for membership of the union by reason of the union operating only in a particular part or particular parts of Great Britain,
    (c)in the case of a union whose purpose is the regulation of relations between its members and one particular employer or a number of particular employers who are associated, he is not, or is no longer, employed by that employer or one of those employers, or
    (d)the exclusion or expulsion is entirely attributable to conduct of his (other than excluded conduct) and the conduct to which it is wholly or mainly attributable is not protected conduct….
    An individual who claims that he has been excluded or expelled from a trade union in contravention of this section may present a complaint to an employment tribunal. [which is free]”

  • david

    forgot one thing, you might try a Subject Access Request to the NUJ, in theory that should give you the objection(s) although with the name(s) redacted.

    • Susan

      Thanks for the above information, David.
      Reading Craig’s problem with the NUJ was leaving me feeling quite despondent. But my spirits are somewhat lifted knowing that the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act could provide an avenue to support/appeal Craig’s claim for NUJ membership.
      Good luck, Craig. You are followed by a band of the most loyal supporters (which of course is why they are going after you), and we will stand by you come what may.

  • Tatyana

    So, Mr. Murray finds himself in a “Your comment is awaiting moderation” mode 🙂 And he’d like to know what the objection says …
    Now many your readers also want to know that, Mr. Murray. Hopefully you will keep us informed.

  • GY

    Craig. As I found out in the NHS, the unions are in partnership with management. They have effectively been bought.
    The stewards and full time officers sit on partnership meetings and have a clear understanding that they work together despite the members wishes in a dispute.

    Bought by prawn sandwiches and a easy life, the principle on what it was founded is long gone. They are part of the establishment now and it’s all intertwined.

    Few have principles and less are prepared to challenge. That’s why you, julian Assange, Edward Snowden, and so many other brave souls have more courage and dignity than all the others.
    Always remember you are on the side of truth!

    I humbly applaud and admire you sir.

    • SA

      This is not new. The trade unions have always been part of a controlled opposition. GBS recognises this and write about it.

      • N_

        @SA – Who is GBS? George Bernard Shaw?

        I agree with the premise, so long as we are talking about relatively modern times and the institutionalised trade union movement. In some white collar workplaces they are hardly even a pseudo opposition and might as well be called secondary personnel departments or staff associations.

        But the premise was not true about the early workers’ combinations in say the 1830s, nor about the Molly Maguires. Personally I wouldn’t call the Mollies a “union” but some people call them that. (Those who wish to make statements about the Mollies should be mindful of the provisions of the Terrorism Act 2006.)

        • np

          “early workers’ combinations”

          Workers (landless labourers) in England were striking, “rioting” and forming local unions as long ago as the 14th century, for which they were prosecuted and imprisoned.

          Sporadic violence paved the way to the Rising of 1381, when unions of labourers up and down the country rebelled, partly to protest laws fixing wages. Among other things, the archbishop of Canterbury was beheaded!

    • Mighty Drunken

      Intriguing as this story appears at the same time that prominent Twitter accounts (Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates…) have been “hacked” by Bitcoin scammers. The only way this could happen is that the internal system of Twitter was compromised somehow, Many suspect that they gained access to the tools used by Twitter employees.

      • Phil Williamson

        The screenshots of the internal control panel with tabs that allow a “controller” to blacklist Search and Trends for any user, i.e. shadow-ban, were released by the hackers.

        All the tech sites (Ars Technica et al), as well as the MSM, are concentrating on the methodology of the hack, what it means for the future, blah, blah, blah – all “safe” subjects. What they will not cover, and what will be left for the “disreputable” RT, Zerohedge et all is discussion of the free speech issues raised by that control panel.

        How seriously do Twitter take the revelation of those control panel screenshots. They permanently deleted the account of the first person who posted it and are deleting every post that subsequently contains it under the pretext that it contravenes their T&Cs! You don’t do that unless it hurts. Can’t wait to see Trump’s reaction.

        • Phil Williamson

          I’ve just discovered that the Guardian will not let one quote Chomsky on free speech:

          “Goebbels was in favor of free speech for views he liked. So was Stalin. If you’re really in favor of free speech, then you’re in favor of freedom of speech for precisely the views you despise. Otherwise, you’re not in favor of free speech.”

          Any post containing this quote just triggers the “infinite buffer”/”Having trouble posting comments?” screen. That’s some chutzpah for an “organ” that ran away to the US to hide under the protection of its 1st Amendment (

          Liberals really are the scum of the Earth.

  • Colin Alexander

    I hope you get the answers you are seeking.

    At least in the meantime, it gives you a greater understanding of what life is like for many ethnic minorities or those who come from the wrong part of town eg. poor people, when they apply for jobs or look to the Scot Govt, SPSO or the courts for justice.

  • Goose

    Quote : It is certainly true that I attract massive criticism on social media from a section of mainstream journalists for my writings – on the Skripal case, for example.

    Amazing how nasty the defenders of the official narrative become. Very, very aggressive, though that very aggression itself is revealing. I mean, were the official narrative true, why would they be so agitated or give a flying fuck what you or anyone else questioning it.

  • Goose

    Every western institution that used to defend free speech is now in full retreat or captured.

    The excellent Glenn Greenwald has spoken and written at length about how the once reliable defenders of free speech are now dancing to the elite’s tune on what’s permissible. With a neutered, captured MSM press incapable of delivering quality investigative reporting, and the NUJ scared of bloggers ,where does that leave us as a society? Who in their right mind thinks this is a good situation besides a shadowy elite?

  • J Galt

    If Lowe is looking for “silly conspiracy theories” being peddled by “journalists” he could do worse than look at the BBC’s “news” tonight!

  • Ian

    I have no doubt that you are being trolled. It only needs a couple of people inside the NUJ, with agendas, to cook up objections based on their own prejudices and connections. They could play the anti-semitism card, always a good one when someone expresses support for Palestinians, and they could play the ‘irresponsible’ court reporting one, on Assange and Salmon. None of it remotely true of course, but all it needs is innuendo and falsification of facts, knowing the NUJ committee will not be acquainted with those facts. It is easy these days to lean on authorities and spook them into taking the ‘easy’ course of action, which is to not get involved, make it go away, by turning down your application. It happens all over the place, in the media and universities, to name a couple of fields.
    What is utterly bankrupt, of course, is the refusal to inform you of the objections and make a response. Especially if it involves false allegations of anti-semitism – a place they are probably terrified of going, since we all know the hysteria with which they will be enveloped with if they make it public. But that is how it works. It is the actions of cowards, easily intimidated and pliant. And your objectors no doubt know that only too well. It is how trolling works. Good luck.

    • Goose

      One of the Integrity initiative journos, perhaps?

      Craig calls them adversaries, it may be semantics , but that’s quite a strong word to use. They push a narrative that many here believe to be partly inaccurate misleading or outright false, but that doesn’t necessarily make them adversaries. The problem being that’s such a loaded word, if I were Craig I wouldn’t have used it.

      • U Watt


        one’s opponent in a contest, conflict, or dispute.
        “Davis beat his old adversary in the quarter finals”

        A very mild noun I’d have thought for the professional liars and smear merchants who seek to destroy dissidents like Craig Murray.

    • Tatyana

      I believe Mr. Murray could make far more better “trolling” than the whole NUJ. Being transparent and honest and acting according to the rules makes his position far more strong, than the hidden motives and inexplicable silence of the NUJ.
      He is like Борис Гесер, the head of the Night Watch in Lukyanenko’s books.

  • Jim Symons

    As Branch Secretary here in Dundee, I have no knowledge of your application. If it was Dundee Branch you applied to join, please call me on 07914 381703

    • craig Post author

      Hi Jim, I live in Edinburgh now and it was the Edinburgh branch. They have never been sent my application from HQ, contrary to the rulebook which says that should be done within 14 days – which was 19 March!

      • Kerch'ee Kerch'ee Coup

        That brief exchange reaffirms the still great difference in attitudes between Edinburgh(esp. Morningside)and Dundee, the city Churchill came to resent.

  • Glasshopper

    Freedom of speech is in an increasingly precarious state.

    Whether it’s the establishment or the creepy loony left woke fascists – or both together – is beside the point. people have to watch what they say these days.
    Craig Murray has put his head above the parapet more than most and is clearly in the firing line.

  • Giyane

    The most recent reporting on unions , about teachers, makes it clear that unions are not in hock to the employers. I never wanted to belong to the print unions, but I would have liked to belong to the JIB for electrical work. But if you are freelance, and I have been since being told to get on my bike in the Thatcher years, you have no large organisation to vouch for you, and large institutions hate freelancers . The head of Estates st my local hospital started my interview. ” You hate us and we hate you. “.

    I don’t think your problem is more sinister than that.
    The fact that there are no larger media institutions that want journalists any more is not your fault, but it does potentially block your normal channels of continuing your membership of a union.

    It’s perfectly understandable that you might suspect foul play , but I think you are merely outside the normal cogs of the machine .

  • VinylFlunkie

    Shocking to see this unfold and yet now this power-play is being exposed in true journalistic fashion. Oh how delicious irony is when a fruitless power attempts to exert itself, overreaches and falls upon its own sword.

  • Andrew Nichols

    A real victim of “Cancel Culture”. Not the self entitled Establishment storm troopers that signed that wretched letter.

  • doug scorgie

    July 16, 2020 at 16:14

    “In fairness after a little more digging I see that the NUJ has made some public comment on Julian Assange broadly in support and condemning judicial instruments being used against Julian Assange are a monstrous attack on press freedom.”
    ET I think the NUJ comments you reference are mere tokenism and I doubt they were covered by the MSM to any meaningful extent, otherwise you would not have had to do a lot of digging to find them. Perhaps they were for NUJ members eyes only published in the in-house magazine.
    The public are not being informed about the Julian Assange case by the MSM and in my view, are actively being misinformed through lies and censorship by omission.
    Never mind where can we find an honest politician? Where can we find an honest journalist?
    Sorry about the rambling but I’m self medicating on lager.

    • ET

      I am not so sure doug. Tim Dawson appears to have participated under the NUJ banner in demonstrations, attended and reported on the extradition proceedings and is very much opposed to Assange’s extradition. If you use the search function on the NUJ site there are 3 pages related to Julian Assange.
      I agree that the MSM have not covered it but that is not the NUJ’s fault. In the same way it’s not Craig’s fault the MSM didn’t cover his reporting on the extradition proceedings. As an organisation they seem to be supportive of Julan Assange’s cause beyond mere tokenism.

      Non of which explains their behaviour towards Craig’s application.

  • Glagaire

    Just want to say, I don’t like the suggestion you make that it would be acceptable to ban someone for holding racist or fascist beliefs. Regardless of the person’s private beliefs, if their public expression of them is done in a rational and polite manner they should not be excluded for wrong think, irregardless of how much the majority of the populace might find their views abhorrent. It’s an easy trap to fall into, targeting the most extreme and unacceptable of views, but the slippery slope is not always a fallacy and we have seen ample recent evidence of the steady encroachment of censorship on civil liberties. Basic principles of free expression must apply to all people equally.

  • Gerald

    Let’s be honest, there aren’t many journalists in the NUJ. I can’t imagine that anyone who works for the ‘fleet street’ tripe that passes for a ‘free press’ in the UK are able to be classified as journalists, it’s s club for corrupt brown nosers just happy to be on the establishment gravy train, even if they’re kept in steerage and fed only hegemon/oligarchy approved tidbits. I suppose it’s necessary so that one can prove one is actually a practicing journalist and not find oneself in poor Juliens quandary of being called a hacker or whatever it is this week that the Americans want him to be.

  • Antonym

    The USK should show how they differ from the already 100% authoritarian CCP China, what democracy and freedom stand for, on all levels. Otherwise they will lose not only the position of no.1 schoolyard bully to another one, but also any actual charm for many medium and small sized schoolkids.
    Stick without carrot.

    • David

      “Using news agencies, social media, poster campaigns and even children’s comics, communications companies working under contract to the British government attempted to undermine….”

      “The UK embarked on its propaganda efforts in the country in 2012 and stepped them up dramatically the following year as the government sought to maintain a strategic foothold…”

      “those involved in the work talked not of propaganda, but of “strategic communications”, or “SC”…”

      “a review that was conducted during the summer of 2016 concluded that the “fundamental shortcomings” of the initiative included…”

      Too many projects appeared to be completed because “we had to be seen to do things” or were designed to impress the US government, the review concluded.

      “Projects have pushed quick wins and shallow, numbers-driven outputs,” it said.

      It concluded that there was a “major risk” that some of the government contractors’ activities were “in contravention of UK law”

      UKUSA 110% different from authoritarian CCP & previous CCCP, the pigs were men and the men were pigs

      quotes from real journalists at MiddleEastEye May2020

    • David

      more epic journalism, outwith the paywall

      from Alan Beattie, senior trade writer,, Chatham House associate, Balliol
      (billionaires/trillionaires need reasonably accurate sources of news)
      (website is a ‘typical’ Bulgarian WP hosted in USA) no virus detected

      …Boris.. ..feeble.. …pressure… ..bullying… …Trumpie… …heavy-handed… ….less-effective.. ….counterproductive…. ….trade-war…. ….”Five Eyes is basically a spy ring.. …they’re not really your go-to guys to put up cell towers”

  • SA

    The lockdown has had some unforeseen effects. I admit to watching the BBC but please do not write me off yet. There may be some opposition forming within the BBC. There was a programme with Mairlis looking at the evil influence of Cummings (her days in BBC are numbered, she already stepped the line)and there is a three part series on the Murdoch empire and its octopus like grip on politics in U.K. since the time of Thatcher. In fact it seems that murdoch directs UKG foreign and domestic policy.

  • N_

    “Free speech” is a load of c*ck. Personally I’m in favour of useful speech and writing that serves the good side in various struggles.

    “Journalism” – is that like botulism?

  • DiggerUK

    Being closer to the grave than my cradle it is a while since my life was dominated by union activities. That being said, I can say that leopards may change their spots, just not their habits.

    The life of a union leader is well rewarded, the contract is Faustian.

    If the delay was the result of opponents throwing sand in the cogs of your application in the union machine it would have been ended by now.
    I believe it has been realised that you could be an expensive member to defend, it is why most hacks join the NUJ anyway. That they may have to mount a major defence of a member will not have gone unnoticed.

    Your right, as a member, to move a motion for the NUJ to mount a campaign to defend Julian Assange would also ruffle feathers. Just imagine the loss of revenue if members at the BBC and The Guardian resigned the NUJ in protest…_

    • J Galt

      The Unions were nobbled in the 1960/70s – one might be very surprised if one looked closely into the associations of some of the so-called “firebrands” of the 1970s – Mick McGahey for instance.

      • Philomena

        And Arthur Scargill’s right-hand or was it left-hand man Joe Gormley – an agent of the British State.

  • thrawnauldbastard

    But why would you even want to join the NUJ in Scotland? For years many of us – even those of leftist sympathy – knew it as the witless poodle of the failing McLeish/McConnell Labour regime and its COSLA pals. It had one or two good people doing their best, and a legal defence fund which helped a few journos out, but on the whole its commissars were more interested in representing the interests of the then political establishment and covering up its indiscretions. Mercurial spinsters like Paul Sinclair and John McTernan made sure of that.

    Obviously times have changed. Labour’s Scottish empire has imploded, with only one or two men of honour (and no women I’m aware of) like Ian Murray MP and former MSP Paul Sweeney. Apart from that, print journalism has been hammered, while BBC Scotland, as ever, is a parochial outpost of London. Is NUJ membership really a prize worth having, especially when you’re being subjected to this Kafkaesque process of anonymous denunciation?

  • Anthony

    The British media – according to polling year after year – is the least trusted in Europe. What do you think it would it take for you to be considered clubbable by these people?

  • J Galt

    Perhaps you should feel honoured to have been rejected by this mob – it proves you’re probably on the right side!

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