Thornton Heath activist Wadsworth awarded union gold badge


Lifelong campaigner: NUJ award-winner Marc Wadsworth

Marc Wadsworth, the campaigning journalist and broadcaster who was expelled by the Labour Party on trumped-up charges, has been awarded with the highest honour available to his trades union, the National Union of Journalists’ gold badge.

The presentation of the award was made at a NUJ London Freelance Branch meeting last week, an event which drew a record attendance for such a meeting, a signal of the high esteem in which anti-racism campaigner Wadsworth is held by his colleagues.

Making the presentation was Labour MP Clive Lewis.

“Marc, I’ve known you since you first came up to me when I was an activist in NUS for black students. And you came to tell me: ‘You haven’t been around for very long, have you? But I can tell you the history of the black student movement and what’s been going on. And you need to listen to me because if you don’t listen to me, then you’re going to have a lot of problems’.

“Well, it’s never stopped. I’ve never stopped listening to you… and I’ve never stopped having problems. I’m not sure whether they’re connected in any way!

“I’ve known you for a long time. You’ve been a comrade for a long time. I’ve got a great deal of respect for you.

Loyal colleague: Clive Lewis MP

“You sometimes bang on my door very loudly. But you know what? My aunt had an expression, which is that ‘The squeaky wheel is the wheel that gets the oil’. Well, you’ve had a lot of my oil.

“And that’s good, though. Because you deserve that oil. You deserve that attention. Because you’re always busy. You’re always active. You’re always striving. And you’re always looking forward for the next campaign.

“The next way that you can educate people, the next documentary that you’re going to do, the next campaign you’re going to set up… You are a natural activist, Marc, looking through your background, your history. And I’m going to talk to the rest of the members here who may not be aware of Marc’s background. It’s a very impressive background.

“This is a well-deserved award, for someone who hasn’t just been a member for a long time: they’ve been an activist and trade unionist. And they’ve been fighting for members of the NUJ for a long time, in a variety of ways.

“I’m just going to talk a little bit about Marc’s background. Marc’s known nationally as a campaigner against racism… He’s a lifelong trade unionist with a track record at every level of the NUJ. He joined the union in 1973 as an indentured reporter on the Surrey Daily Advertiser in Guilford.

“And early on, he had a really tough story, we’re told, as a 19-year-old being one of the first on the horrific scene of the IRA Guilford bombings in October 1974… He started shifts on the national papers, including the Daily Mirror where he got to know celebrated reporters like Paul Foot and John Pilger (whom I believe was going to make the presentation tonight but he isn’t able to be with us because he’s unwell; I am a stand-in and I’m quite happy with that).

“He landed the job at BBC Radio London as a reporter on its iconic Black Londoners nightly programme. And in 1981, he went to work as a TV researcher then reporter at Thames Television – at the time, the biggest ITV station – and this is where he cut his teeth as the NUJ Father of Chapel and chair of the Joint Shop Stewards Committee, representing around 2,500 staff.

“Now, I can’t even begin to think about what representing 2,500 staff is like; that is a massive responsibility. I, as a Chapel Father, was responsible for perhaps 100 or so people. For 2,500 people… that is on a scale that I can barely imagine. That was a very powerful position. And Marc was someone who stood up for his members.

“And when those unions came out against the Conservative government, based on their attacks on Thames Television for its documentary Death on the Rock where those four unarmed IRA activists were gunned down by the SAS, he led the charge in defending his members.

“Ultimately, the government won the day. They didn’t allow Thames Television to carry on and closed it down. Many of his members lost their jobs. Marc lost his as well. He was there on the front line with his colleagues, with his members whom he represented.

“And I think you had a hard time after that, Marc. It was tough to find work. I’m not going to say you were blacklisted, but something very close to that, for your political activism – and maybe you were.

“You then went through a period working as a freelancer. You did various bits of work for the NUJ. You worked on the NUJ Race Relations Working Party. You took up the issue of the Black Section inside the Labour Party. And you have been a political activist across a very, very wide variety of issues.

“You’ve also written a book on the first black MPs in this place. You are someone who is still making documentaries. You’ve made one recently for the BBC.

Expelled: life-long anti-racism campaigner, Marc Wadsworth, appeared on the Labour Files over his unjust expulsion from the Labour Party

“You are someone who has been on the front line, Marc: someone who has been a genuine comrade to so many people. You’ve really put yourself on the line for people. And I think the NUJ should be proud to have you and proud to have your service for all of these decades.

“So thank you very much for all you’ve done, comrade. And thank you for all you’re going to do. I’m sure your best years are in front of you.”

Wadsworth, who lives in Thornton Heath, recently featured in an Al Jazeera documentary, part of the Labour Files series, which showed how he had been scapegoated as part of the antisemitism purges conducted by the party’s right-wingers.

Accepting the award, he recalled difficulties he had experienced in the Labour Party, from which he was suspended in 2016 and wrongly expelled in 2018.

Wadsworth, who had been a member of the Croydon North Constituency Labour Party, said, “Clive Lewis was one of only three MPs that stuck their necks out and supported me during that awful time, in which I was hung out to dry and went through a terrible trial by media.

“But we’ve fought through all of that, and we’ve succeeded.”

In 2021, Wadsworth was vindicated when he won a High Court libel case against the Jewish Chronicle, with the newspaper agreeing to pay “substantial compensation” and issue an apology.

Toasting the NUJ London Freelance Branch, Wadsworth said they had “always been in the corner in the fight for justice and supported campaigns that I have attempted to further, including the Justice for Stephen Lawrence campaign, where I was able to introduce Doreen and Neville Lawrence to Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu”.

Read more: #TheLabourFiles: anti-racism campaigner expelled by party
Read more: Anti-racism campaigner Wadsworth wins High Court libel case
Read more: MP calls on Corbyn to ‘come out fighting’ over Wadsworth
Read more: Wadsworth asks supporters to stop abuse of MP Steve Reed

  • If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, or want to publicise your residents’ association or business, or if you have a local event to promote, please email us with full details at
  • As featured on Google News Showcase
  • Our comments section on every report provides all readers with an immediate “right of reply” on all our content
  • ROTTEN BOROUGH AWARDS: Croydon was named among the country’s rottenest boroughs for a SIXTH successive year in 2022 in the annual round-up of civic cock-ups in Private Eye magazine

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
This entry was posted in Croydon North, Thornton Heath and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Thornton Heath activist Wadsworth awarded union gold badge

  1. David White says:

    Marc Wadsworth has a fantastic record of campaigning for progressive causes. He well deserves this NUJ award.

    Marc’s treatment by the Labour Party was shabby in the extreme. It showed how far that Party has moved away from basic notions of fairness and natural justice.

  2. Peter says:

    In May 2018, Marc Wadsworth’s CLP (Croydon North Constituency Labour Party) voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion calling for his membership to be reinstated (only a single vote cast against). Similar motions, passed by numerous other CLPs, were unable to reverse this injustice.

    So it’s great that Marc has received this well-deserved prestigious NUJ award, from his fellow professionals, for his tireless campaigning journalism. Clive Lewis’s informative presentation speech makes excellent reading.

  3. Ian Kierans says:

    Marc’s activism over the years educated many – we can debate some points made but fundamentally his activities brought enlightenment to many (and some resistance) I think (could be wrong) that he was ill treated and was not welcomed by the new views and was off message.

    But prehaps some of those need to understand that they would not be in the positions they are now without his trailblazing over those years. We are supposed to be a tolerant society. Perhaps practicing that would make for better Political parties and more trust from all?
    Other than that congratulations To Mr Wadsworth and a deserved recognition of tireless work.

  4. It’s one in the eye for the despicable racists in the Labour Party, Ruth Smeeth in particular, who accused Marc of anti-Semitism when it was her racism which should have been challenged. Well done Marc.

Leave a Reply