NUJ Journalist Editor Election: Mark Watts’ ‘exposé’ circular to NUJ members

Mark Watts, one of the candidates campaigning for the NUJ Journalist magazine and website editorship, has issued a statement to 19,000 of the union’s members claiming to ‘expose’ another candidate Rich Simcox as a member of the NUJ Left, arguing that this section of the NUJ ‘is trying to hijack the union from its members’.

However, scepticism over whether Simcox’s allegiance was much of a secret has already been raised by Jon Slattery on his blog:

“Watts names the NUJ Left candidate as Rich Simcox. But is this such a shocking revelation? Simcox told me when I revealed he was standing in the election on September 3 that he had the support of the NUJ Left and I reported the fact here in the second paragraph of the story.

“Watts, however, alleges that Simcox has not revealed his NUJ Left backing in his election material. His email ends dramatically: ‘Lance the boil. Save the NUJ’. Simcox told me today: “I didn’t realise it was such a secret. It comes up fourth when you Google my name.” has contacted Rich Simcox for a response to Watts’ statement, in the meantime, please leave your thoughts below this post. What questions would you like to ask Watts or Simcox?

We’ve created a special section of our bulletin board for you to quiz the would-be editors on their plans for the union title and why they should take the helm. It’s already very active, with numerous responses from six of the eight candidates. Add your question by posting a new topic on the forum at this link or by emailing us at laura or judith [at]

Mark Watts statement as follows:

8 thoughts on “NUJ Journalist Editor Election: Mark Watts’ ‘exposé’ circular to NUJ members

  1. Dan Phillips

    I’m frankly very surprised that candidates are not required to declare any membership of political parties in NUJ elections especially if they are part of an internal NUJ faction, there was plenty of space to do it so I’d like to know why Rich Simcox didn’t declare his affiliation on that huge election booklet and how many other candidates have failed to declare any similar political memberships?

  2. Sarah Evans

    I have contacted the NUJ with the following statement:
    Here is the email I received this morning which I was pretty shocked to read. It is not the sort of thing I would have expected from someone applying to be elected as editor of the Journalist. I’m sure Mr Watts has done everything correctly but I would like to ask if the statements by him in the attached email bring the union into disrepute and I would urge the leadership to investigate if it thinks this is the case.

    I would also like to say that I do not think that Mark Watts’ attempt at being elected as the editor of the Journalist is the correct place for him to try such crude party political point scoring. What I would like to see, as a member, is evidence that the candidate can help to bring about unity in the union through his or her work as an editor. What we need is unity and proof that the new editor can bring about that, and of course that he or she is qualified to do the job.

    Please feel free to pass my comments to Mark Watts.

  3. Martin Cloake

    I’m sure Mark would love to be investigated for “bringing the NUJ into disrepute”, it will fuel his paranoid conspiracy theories. It really is a particularly ugly piece of campaigning, reminiscent of McCarthy-era America. It’s also so shot through with absurd illogicality as to be laughable were it not calculated to cause such damage.

    One person who voted for Mark has already expressed their disgust on Jon Slattery’s blog at the “intemperate rant” that is “lacking in judgement and perspective”, and I wouldn’t surprised if more people who had Mark down as one of their preferences feel the same.

  4. Sarah Evans

    It seems Mark Watts is more interested in taking over the union than serving it. Maybe, as you say Martin, he is better ignored. I am sure many will be disgusted at his little outburst. If people are doing the job in hand party politics should not come into it.

  5. Richard Simcox


    I didn’t realise my membership of NUJ Left was a secret. If you Google my name it comes up fourth.

    Former Press Gazette deputy editor Jon Slattery reported on his blog on 3 September that I would be running as a candidate with the support of the group.

    It’s not on my website because my supporters are a wide coalition, not all of whom support NUJ Left.

    If I’m elected I will of course reflect and represent that breadth in the way I do the job.

    I don’t think it’s fair to associate all of my supporters with a group they don’t necessarily support.

    I want as many NUJ members – whatever political views they hold, or if they hold none – to vote in this election.

    Just for the record, I’m not a member of a political party.

    Best wishes.


  6. Jenny Vaughan

    For once, my dilatoriness has worked to my advantage – I had planned to vote for Mark – having read his diatribe, there is no question of that now. It shows profound ignorance of the union he purports to want to work for, and a basic lack of research into NUJ left of which I am not a ‘member’. It’s never been a secret organisation. People who take part in its events come from a wide range of views within the union.

    The whole rant struck me as bizarre and paranoid, not to mention insulting to a swathe of good trade unionists, and I think it will have lost more votes than it will gain.

  7. Phil Steele

    If the Journalist were to be filled with Mark’s brand of reds-under-the beds ranting and rambling, it would be unreadable.

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