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Minutes of the UK Section's 2008 Annual General Meeting

The meeting was held at 17:00-19:00 on 13 Janaury 2009 at the offices of the European Parliament, 2 Queen Anne's Gate, SW1


1. Report from Chairman

William Horsley summarised his written report for 2008. It had been "a busy and rewarding year", with some good activities, a higher AEJ profile, some new members and a healthy bank balance.

The AEJ 40th birthday party, which had been combined with the FPA’s 120th anniversary, had been a notable success, and William expressed thanks to Christopher Wyld of the FPA for his generosity. The section’s lunches had been well attended with a good range of speakers, and the free venue provided by the EP was much appreciated. The AEJ continued to be active in the campaign for media freedom in Europe. At the International AEJ Congress in Linz, William had organised a special session on threats to media freedom. The AEJ UK website was now up to date and more informative thanks to Celia’s determined efforts to learn the dark arts of web-mastering.

2 and 3. Reports from Secretary and Treasurer

Celia Hampton presented the Secretary’s Report and the Treasurer’s Report (Mike Springate was away on holiday). She was pleased that seven members of the section had been able to attend the AEJ Congress in Linz in November. The lunches had attracted a consistently good attendance; she warmly thanked David Lennon who as Events Director had arranged many of the speakers. The media freedom section on the website appears 5th on the Google list if anyone enters "media freedom", so it must be well used.

The Treasurer’s Report showed that the finances of the section were in a very healthy state. The meeting agreed to accept Mike Springate’s proposal that the lunch charges and annual membership fees should remain at their present levels.

4. Election of Officers

Rick Thompson had submitted a motion proposing that the three officers should all be re-elected for another year. On behalf of the members, he warmly thanked William, Celia and Mike for all their great work in 2008, and looked forward to another active year. There would be particular value for AEJ members having access to expert speakers and in networking in a year that would see the EU trying to combat the serious recession, elections to the European Parliament, a new Commission, attempts to revive the Lisbon Treaty, an energy security challenge, and the need to agree an ambitious climate change package before the UN Climate Conference in Copenhagen at the end of the year. And the threats to media freedom seemed to be growing in many European countries. So the work of the officers during the coming year would be very much appreciated once again.

Martyn Bond seconded the motion, and the officers were re-elected unopposed by acclamation.

5. Events Director

It was also agreed unanimously that David Lennon (who was away on holiday) should be asked to continue his valuable role as Events Director. Members were asked to send the names and contact details of any suggestions they may have for lunchtime speakers to David on



6. Other business

It was agreed that Celia should hire someone to help with the catering at AEJ lunches (laying out food and drinks, washing up etc) rather than do it herself every time. The EP office administrator had recommended someone who works in catering nearby. The cost would probably be £50 each time.

Events to note in 2009:

20 January: Memorial service for Charles Wheeler at Westminster Abbey. Tickets only, and it might be oversubscribed by now. Contact Dinah Garret (BBC History)

AEJ meetings coming up:

12 February: Declan Ganley, founder of Libertas and leader of the campaign against the Lisbon Treaty in Ireland.

21 April: Caroline Flint MP, Minister for Europe.

30 April (t.b.c.): European Elections Seminar at the EP Office – a briefing and debate about the EP elections to be held 4-7 June – organised by Dermot Scott, head of the London EP Office. Roger Broad explained that the AEJ had been invited to make suggestions about the programme and speakers, and help to spread the word to other interested media. But the organisation and costs would be in the hands of the EP staff. Members briefly exchanged views about various possible speakers and themes. Roger would liaise further with Dermot Scott to make the event as useful as possible to AEJ members and other journalists.

1 May (t.b.c.): World Press Freedom Day debate to be held at the Frontline Club. Details would be posted in due course on and

May: Martyn Bond said that, in May, the Council of Europe would be marking its 60th anniversary, and in this anniversary year the CoE would be happy to fund a visit to a plenary session in Strasbourg for a group from the AEJ UK section. Dates would be either 21-24 June or 27-30 September. William thanked Martyn for arranging this opportunity. Celia would canvas members to find out the level of interest and take it forward. It was understood that participating journalists would be expected to publish something about the CoE, though this was not a prerequisite.

9 November: The 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. It was noted that numerous events and special media programmes are planned to mark the "Year of Revolutions". The UK section expects to hold one or more lunchtime meetings with guest speakers on themes related to this important anniversary.

The AGM ended at 18.45 when members repaired to The Two Chairmen for refreshments.


Rick Thompson, January 2009  






Chairman's report

Secretary's report for the AGM

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