Blanket ban on civil service media contact is ‘unnecessary, unworkable and unjustified’, says FDA

18 March 2015

(For immediate release)

Responding to the change to the Civil Service Code, which states that civil servants must ensure they have Ministerial authorisation for any contact with the media, FDA General Secretary Dave Penman said:

"The announcement of a blanket ban on media contact for civil servants - just 51 days before a General Election - is an unnecessary, unworkable and unjustified restriction on the work of the civil service.

"The public has a right to open and transparent public services, yet this change now requires Ministerial authorisation before a civil servant can respond or make any contact with the media - from a prosecutor being asked for comment outside of court, to a job centre manager dealing with a local news story.

"Guidance to regulate contact between civil servants and the media is already in place and we can see no justification for this sudden, drastic change, other than intimidating civil servants into silence. Rather than being a genuine attempt to improve public services, this knee-jerk decision seems to have only been made to sate unfounded and misguided ministerial mistrust."

Notes for editors

1. Relevant background documents can be found at

2. The FDA is the trade union for the UK's senior public servants and professionals. FDA membership includes more than 18,000 senior civil servants, Government policy advisors, prosecutors, diplomats, tax professionals, economists, solicitors and other professionals working across Government and the NHS.

3. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants' union".

4. The FDA can be found on Twitter @FDA_union and at

5. The FDA's alternative White Paper - 'Delivering for the Nation: Securing a World-Class Civil Service - outlining our analysis of the challenges facing the civil service and our recommendations for change, can be read here.

6. For further information contact:

  • Dave Penman, FDA General Secretary, tel: 020 7401 5574 or 07967 503827.
  • Kay Hender, Communications Manager, tel: 020 7401 5589 or 07980 700747.