Home Society BBC Reporter Forced Off Air Amid Disability Rally In Parliament

BBC Reporter Forced Off Air Amid Disability Rally In Parliament

Norman Smith told to stop broadcasting as dozens of people protest in central lobby against welfare cuts.

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Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “BBC reporter forced off air amid disability rally in parliament” was written by Rowena Mason Political correspondent, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 23rd March 2016 13.42 UTC

Dozens of people protesting against disability benefit cuts have occupied the central lobby in parliament, chanting “Cameron killer” and “no more deaths from benefit cuts”.

Black Rod, the official with responsibility for the parliamentary estates and security, ordered reporters not to take or tweet photos of the protests. Under parliamentary rules, only authorised photography is allowed.

The BBC’s Norman Smith, who has permission to broadcast from the central lobby, was ordered by the authorities to stop filming mid-broadcast.

The protesters from WinVisible, Disabled People Against the Cuts and other groups said they were lobbying MPs to scrap cuts to the employment and support allowance and to ensure the proposed budget changes to the personal independence payment (PIP) would not be introduced.

Holding a banner reading “Is this really how to treat disabled people?”, they shouted slogans at passing MPs, while a line of police blocked the entrance to the House of Commons chamber.

The Green MP, Caroline Lucas, disobeyed the rules to tweet pictures of the protest, including a selfie with one of the organisers.

“Congrats to disability campaigners for protest currently taking place in central lobby – their voices must be heard,” she wrote.

Claire Glasman, of WinVisible, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, said: “We are lobbying MPs to make sure the budget cuts to PIP do not go ahead and ask them to reverse the cuts to other ones. People are suicidal.”

Paula Peters, of Disabled People Against the Cuts, said the group wanted “an apology from George Osborne for the deaths of disabled people” and accused the government of having “blood on its hands”.

“We want our full rights restored, we can’t take any more,” she said.

The protest ended peacefully just after 1pm, with the campaigners singing “Osborne out” and “we’ll be back”, accompanied by someone playing a harmonica.

A Commons spokesperson said: “Broadcasting in central lobby must be in the context of an interview with a member or an introduction or commentary on specific business in the House that day. These conditions were not being complied with, so the broadcasters were asked to suspend temporarily.”

The protesters occupied the lobby during prime minister’s questions, at which the Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, pressed David Cameron to apologise for having worried disabled people, and urged him to reverse the ESA cuts.

Corbyn quoted Iain Duncan Smith, who resigned as work and pensions secretary last week, claiming the PIP cuts were a political decision.

“If it’s all so fine and dandy, then the question has to be asked – why did Mr Duncan Smith feel it necessary to resign as work and pensions secretary, complaining that the cuts being announced were to fit our three fiscal targets?” the Labour leader asked. “He said they were distinctly political rather than in the national economic interest.

“In the initial announcement he proposed cuts in PIPs, then changed his mind, isn’t Mr Duncan Smith right when he says this was a political decision rather than one made in the interests of people in this country?”

Cameron said the government had reversed a wrong decision. “I believe that, after seven or eight years of economic growth, it is right to be targeting a surplus because a responsible government puts aside money for a rainy day,” he said.

“I don’t want to be part of a government that doesn’t have the courage to pay off our debts and leave them instead to our children and grandchildren and that is the truth.

“What is dressed up as compassion from Labour just means putting off difficult decisions and asking our children to pay the debts we weren’t prepared to pay ourselves.”

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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