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Secretary's report on the UK Section for the AEJ's 2014 Congress

Prepared for the AEJ International Congress at Neusiedl, 16-19 October 2014

The UK Section is pleased to have maintained its near-record membership level of 43 members in 2014.

It has been another eventful year for journalists, with the ongoing crises in Ukraine and the Middle East, the Scottish referendum on independence, the rapid rise of the UKIP party and the European elections, the continuing issue of mass surveillance and freedom of expression, and the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

Among the highlights of our monthly lunchtime meetings with newsmakers were those with Fawaz A.Gerges, Professor on International Relations at the LSE and prolific author and specialist on all aspects of the Middle East, who analysed the ideology and conquests of the ISIS jihadist group in Iraq and Syria, and Anne Applebaum, a distinguished journalist and author, who gave us her views on the situation in Ukraine and Russia’s role in the conflict there.

An analysis of China’s new global strategic ambitions by Professor Stephen Tsang was also very illuminating, as was the outcome of the Scottish referendum on independence at our meeting with Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC, an outstanding authority on the British constitution.

 

 

Our lunchtime guest speakers since the last report were:

Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC, Barrister, politician and constitutional expert

Fawaz A Gerges, Professor of International Relations at LSE, author and specialist in Middle East affairs

Margaret Macmillan, Professor of International History at Oxford University, Warden of St Anthony's College, author of The War that Ended Peace

Anne Applebaum, author, journalist and sovietologist

A Pre-EP Elections Briefing with

Simon Hix, Professor of European and Comparative Politics, London School of Economics, and

Derk Jan Eppink, retiring Conservatives and Reformists Group MEP for Brussels, author and blogger

Dr Ian Brown, Associate Director, Cyber Security Centre at Oxford University: The Internet and the Law

Gus Hosein, Executive Director of Privacy International: what the Snowden files revealed

Professor Stephen Tsang, Professor of Chinese Studies, Director of the China Policy Institute, Nottingham University

 

 

Campaigns and petitions: In 2014 UK Section members signed online petitions against the UK’s covert accessing of journalists’ mobile phone records to find the source of embarrassing leaks related to the "Plebgate" scandal, and calling for the release of Peter Greste and the other Al Jazeera journalists jailed in Egypt.

Earlier petitions supported by AEJ UK members include those to "Save Presseurop" and to support the independent Russian polling organisation, The Levada Centre, which faced threats of closure at the hands of the Russian government.

For UK Section Chairman William Horsley’s activities as the AEJ’s Special Representative for Media Freedom, see his separate Media Freedom Report.

The office-holders of the AEJ UK Section’s Committee are (elected):

Chairman : William Horsley

Secretary: Margaret Hughes

Treasurer: Mike Springate

Other responsibilities:

Events Director: David Lennon

Website Manager: Celia Hampton

 

Margaret Hughes, Secretary AEJ UK