I was shocked to see a page in the latest issue of Sussex Express devoted to UKIP leader Nigel Farage and his views on press freedom and the outcome of Leveson. You say in your editorial that ‘This newspaper does not support any political party’ but in the week before the local County Council elections, such prominence given to Nigel Farage cannot but be interpreted differently. This viewpoint is confirmed by the last paragraph of the editorial where you ‘salute’ Mr Farage for having the courage and the commensense’, on a principle for which ‘millions of Britons sacrificed their lives in two world wars’. This is a rhetoric that cannot fail to give the impression that your newspaper supports UKIP. Contrast this with my experience of failing to get your paper to include either a notice of a talk by the noted journalist and government critic Polly Toynbee on April 20th at the Labour Party offices or the report of what she said.
Dr Gaby Weiner
Labour County Council candidate for Lewes Division
EDITOR IN CHIEF: Newspapers are entitled to be partisan. They can instruct their readers to vote for a specific party - and some nationals regularly do so. We do not adopt that approach. We do not support any political party and seek a balanced approach. However, it is quite true that I have made a very strong point about free speech on this occasion and I have criticised the three main parties at national level for their attempts to undermine a free press. With regard to the county elections, you will note that Mr Farage is not a candidate. Furthermore, we carefully removed from his quotes any reference specifically to the May poll - although he may well have wished us to do otherwise as that I assume was the reason for his visit. He is a national party leader and we focussed on national issues and his views on them - particularly green field development and press regulation. Does my coverage and comment suggest I support UKIP? Absolutely not. Do I think it may upset the three other main political parties? I do hope so. I have been a journalist for 32 years. I care nothing for the politics of individual parties. I do believe passionately in free speech. It has never been in such peril. I have made my point to them all. And I am not afraid to defend it.