Man Utd "threatened to ban Independent"

Independent editor calls for Lord Leveson to scrutinise role of PR companies.

Old Trafford, Independent, Chris Blackhurst
Chris Blackhurst has claimed Manchester United threatened to ban his paper from Old Trafford (above). Photograph: Getty Images

Independent editor Chris Blackhurst last night urged Lord Justice Leveson to scrutinise the role of the PR industry amid claims Manchester United threatened to ban his paper from Old Trafford unless it apologised over a story that was critical of the club.

Blackhurst said after the recent story appeared “the message was conveyed to me that unless we apologised, unless we retracted immediately, we would be banned”.

“Our journalists would not be allowed to the Carrington training ground and would probably not be allowed into Old Trafford to cover their matches," he added.

“Is that ethical? They didn’t like the story - we thought we were doing our job as journalists in reporting the story.”

A spokesman for the club told Press Gazette it was not aware of the story and said “the club don’t have any issues with the Independent newspaper”.

Last May a Sky News mic picked up the club’s manager Sir Alex Ferguson telling a press officer to ban a journalist who asked a question about Ryan Giggs, after he was named as the footballer accused of having an affair with Welsh model Imogen Thomas.

 

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