NCTJ told of consultant’s record in June

The SJA is to contact the National Council for Training Journalists to enquire why the organisation took nearly six months to act after being told that one of its senior consultants on training courses for young people had a conviction for downloading child porn.

The NCTJ has cancelled its arrangement with Andy Bull, the former deputy editor of the Sunday Express, who recently had been working for the journalism training body as a freelance qualifications consultant, working on the future role of press photographers and photojournalists.

It has been reported that the NCTJ acted because Bull had not informed them of his three-month jail term in 2004, and cancelled his contract because the lack of disclosure was a breach of trust.

“We regret that these matters were not brought to our attention by Andy Bull and under the circumstances have decided it is not appropriate for him to have a future involvement with the NCTJ,” the organisation said.

Yet the Sports Journalism Association had contacted the NCTJ in June to question Bull’s involvement in drafting the organisation’s sports journalism qualification, after the SJA was belatedly consulted about the new course.

“We were surprised when we received the consultation syllabus document that it was from Bull on behalf of the NCTJ, given his previous high profile and the nature of his offence,” Steven Downes, the Secretary of the SJA, said. “So we contacted the NCTJ to confirm that it was the same Andy Bull, and to ask about the appropriateness of someone with such a record being involved in the training of young people.

“The attitude was a little complacent. We were told that someone would get back to us. No one ever did, but it seems a little odd now for the NCTJ to be saying that they were unaware of Bull’s record until last week.”

Bull, who had previously worked in senior positions at The Independent, Times Online and AOL, resigned as deputy editor at the Sunday Express in 2003 ahead of his arrest as part of the police’s anti-paedophile porn Operation Ore investigation. In January 2004, Bull was found guilty on four counts of making an indecent photograph of a child and was sentenced to four three-month jail terms, which ran concurrently.

His most recent task at the NCTJ was to consult editors, picture editors, photographers and trainers to seek their views on the way forward for industry training over the use of photography, much of it web-based.