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Minutes of the UK Section's 2007 Annual General Meeting

The meeting was held at 17:00-19:00 on 10 January 2008 at the offices of the European Parliament, 2 Queen Anne's Gate, SW1


Opening remarks

The Chairman, William Horsley, welcomed members to the AGM. He paid tribute to the “marvellous” contribution made to the UK Section by the Secretary, Celia Hampton, throughout the year. She was absent due to illness, and all wished her a speedy recovery. The section itself was clearly in robust health.

1. Chairman's report. William presented his written report. It had been a good year. Celia had mastered the website and it was good to have up-to-date information available immediately. There had been good quality speakers at the briefings/lunches. The section was establishing more outside links and exploring the idea of joint events, and had a focus for its activities in the defence of media freedom in Europe.

The UK Section had been well represented at the international AEJ Congress in Dublin in November, which had been brilliantly hosted by the Irish Section. The launch of the European Media Freedom Dossier, called “Goodbye to Freedom?” and compiled by William, had made significant impact. The survey would be re-launched with updated material in Brussels on 28 February, to attract the attention of the Brussels press corps, EU institutions and other international organisations. Members congratulated William on being appointed the AEJ Media Freedom Representative. A considerable amount of work had gone into the Survey. It can be seen in full on the Survey page

2. Secretary's report. Celia’s comprehensive written report was much appreciated. William pointed out that membership was rising, and planning was already under way for 2008 activities. Members were asked to note that a World Press Freedom Day event was being planned for Friday, 2 May. The meeting thanked Celia in her absence for “the tremendous amount of hard work she had put in to make it a successful year.”

3. Treasurer's report. The financial accounts for the year had been distributed in advance. Treasurer Michael Springate described the accounts as “healthy”. The meeting passed a vote of thanks to Dermot Scott and his EP office staff for their hospitality.

4. Election of officers for 2008. The three officers of the UK Section (Chairman William Horsley, Secretary Celia Hampton, and Treasurer Michael Springate) were re-elected unopposed for another year by general acclamation.

5. Honorary Presidents. Kevin d’Arcy had proposed the notion of the section having some well-known journalists as honorary presidents, to help attract new members. Some members said they liked the idea in principle. But others were not convinced that this would be appropriate or effective. Kevin readily withdrew his motion, but asked that the notion of using eminent public figures to help with fund-raising and recruitment be considered as part of the continuing discussions on ways of expanding the section.




6. Other business. There was a general discussion about ways of making the section more active and successful.

Firdevs Robinson of the BBC World Service volunteered to come up with one or more proposals for special events on topical themes which the AEJ could stage in conjunction with like-minded organisations. This could be very attractive to members and raise both valuable funds and the AEJ’s profile. The offer was warmly welcomed.

Could the London embassies, in particular their press attachés, be engaged more? Martyn Bond, who is Deputy Director of the London Press Club, said the LPC is open to ideas for closer collaboration with the AEJ. He and others raised the possibility of more systematic cooperation with the press attachés of European embassies. A suggestion being mooted by the LPC is to stage regular appearances by selected diplomats from European embassies in London, which might be of special interest to AEJ members. A brief inconclusive discussion followed about the organisation and financing of such a scheme. Martyn was invited to send a written note on this to the Chairman and Secretary for further consideration.

John Coleman thought the European Atlantic Group could be another possible collaborator and would investigate (

William Horsley said there had been some informal contacts with the Foreign Press Association about joint events and even joint membership. He would explore further.

Jonathan Fryer pointed out that there had been many changes of personnel in British politics, so perhaps invitations to the main domestic parties could be renewed. David Barker wondered if there was merit in staging an event with several speakers sharing the same platform.

William urged all members to email the Chairman and Secretary with any further suggestions for speakers.

The Chairman concluded the meeting by mentioning the launch of John Coleman’s book, Coleman’s Cars, and From Scorn to Dignity, a history of disablement by the late Brian Breed, at 4 p.m on Friday, 25 January, at the Islington Business Centre. More details from and 020 7582 3996

Members then proceeded to the Old Star for the traditional New Year AEJ drinks and buffet.


Rick Thompson January 2008





Chairman's report

Secretary's report for the AGM

Secretary's report on the UK Section's activities for the AEJ Congress