Release date: 4 June 2021
The Chartered Institute of Journalists has written to the Secretary of State for planning, Robert Jenrick, calling on him to review a decision by the City of London Corporation to approve the demolition of iconic Fleet Street buildings and monuments which are part of the vital free press and newspaper heritage of London.
Institute President Professor Tim Crook says “This is a terrible desecration of the history and significance of a highly significant section of Fleet Street which has been the inspiration for media freedom everywhere in the world. The 1924 Chronicle House was built for and named after one of our great campaigning Liberal newspapers.”
The Institute is also appalled that the new development involves the removal of the bust to the reforming newspaper editor and Parliamentarian T P O’Connor and with its memorable words “His pen could lay bare the bones of a book or the soul of a statesman in a few vivid lines.”
T P O’Connor founded the London Evening Star newspaper in 1888 which campaigned for the rights of the homeless, poor and destitute. Its opposition to the Boer War and exposure of the unacceptable face of capitalism led to brokers burning it on the floor of the Stock Exchange.
O’Connor was a Fellow of the Institute and left a bequest which created a charity in his name that has benefited hundreds of journalists in need since his death in 1929.
Professor Crook says “There is no reason why the new development could not have imaginatively retained the architecture and symbolism of this memorable and famous section of Fleet Street, which has been the case with Beaverbrook’s Express building and the former headquarters of the Daily Telegraph group.”
A feature article for the Institute’s forthcoming edition of The Journal is now available online at: https://cioj.org/thejournal/saving-the-iconic-history-of-fleet-street-and-british-journalism/
The Institute is supporting the campaign by SAVE Britain’s Heritage which has launched a petition to persuade Mr Jenrick and the government to intervene.
Professor Crook is also writing to the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Minister for the Cabinet Office, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove because of their professional journalism background and the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden.