THE OPEN statement condemning racist hysteria in the media about asylum seekers received a massive boost this week when more than 140 delegates to the National Union of Journalists annual conference backed it unanimously.
The union's conference also voted to contribute £1,000 to the £13,000 cost of publishing the letter as an advertisement in the Daily Mirror on 29 April - two days before the May local council elections.
The Committee to Defend Asylum Seekers, which launched the statement five weeks ago, is now going all out to encourage as many people as possible to sign it. It is appealing also to supporters to help persuade influential figures in the labour movement, entertainment, sport and the professions to back the letter and contribute to the cost of publishing it.
Latest signatures are the playwright Harold Pinter and Grammy award-winning documentary maker Don Letts, Gerard Coyne, the TGWU's regional secretary for the Midlands, and Tom Hickey, chair of Brighton Natfhe. The PCS union branch at the DETR in London and its treasurer, Rachel Edwards (personal capacity), have also signed the statement.
Copies of the statement can be downloaded from www.defend-asylum.org