Student 'considered quitting' over Leeds story

Leeds University and the now notorious interview in the student union newspaper, Leeds Student

Leeds University and the now notorious interview in the student union newspaper, Leeds Student

A university student union officer has admitted he considered resigning after being criticised for censoring a student paper.

The paper had published an interview interpreted as suggesting Jews control the media.

Jak Codd, Leeds University Union communications and internal affairs officer, helped take the decision to remove, temporarily, copies of Leeds Student from the Union building a fortnight ago.

The paper's Laura Mackenzie had interviewed Sameh Habeeb, the founder and editor of the online Palestine Telegraph, about his experiences during last year's Gaza conflict.

When asked whether mainstream media organisations have a "hidden agenda", Mr Habeeb replied: "They are certainly pro-Israeli. I think you have to ask yourself who controls the media."

The decision to censor the paper was criticised by students who claimed the move compromised freedom of speech.

Mr Codd, who is Jewish, said: "Last week was a difficult week. I did not feel like going back and I was preparing to resign. The rest of my team talked me round.

"What I'm most annoyed about now is that the aspect the newspaper is focusing on is the idea of censorship, rather than apologising or admitting they were wrong. I want to stay and make sure they can never do this again."

Mr Codd said he would decide by the end of this week whether to remain in his role until the academic year ends next month.

Last week's edition of the paper published an editorial column explaining the decision to run the interview without challenging Mr Habeeb's comments.

It explained: "Mr Habeeb's answer is open to several interpretations: 'Media control' could mean ownership, editorial stance or whether or not journalists have - or are allowed - access to events they wish to report.

"The intention was to report Habeeb's views, not comment upon them. The interview was presented in question-and-answer format. No editorial line was taken or displayed. The comment was reported verbatim."

The editorial claimed the "sensitivity" of discussing "who controls the media" was not recognised before publication.

Mr Habeeb said his comments were not meant to be interpreted as referring to Jews, and explained he had meant "key figures, editors or big reporters are manipulating things and adopting the Israeli narrative".

    Last updated: 2:05pm, May 13 2010