Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Trial by Media

Steve Cooke, a cpgb comrade posted this on the UK Left Network last night. IMO he is absolutely spot on. I used to regularly view Murdoch's 24 hour rolling propaganda channel, Fox News. This limp excuse for a news channel regularly prejudiced cases by going into detail about suspects, possible evidences and motives and what have you, and hypocritically moaning about the difficulty of finding jurors uncontaminated by media coverage!

I smugly thought it couldn't happen here. How wrong I was.

I've just read a Guardian article about the second man arrested as part of the Suffolk serial killings investigation. See here

The media coverage of the arrests is absolutely appalling.

Hopefully the police will find the culprit, but the consequences for the lives of any innocent individuals arrested in the process could be severe.

This man's personal information, his date of birth, the street he lives on, career history, personality traits, hobbies, everything are being detailed and speculated upon in the above article, as will presumably be happening in the other papers too.

Not only that, but they've written extensively about his partner, named and detailed his father's marital history, and printed all but the house number of his son's address.

Even if he turns out to be completely innocent, this man's life will be damaged.

Some of the people he knows will probably treat him quite differently now on the basis that there's no smoke with fire, you can't be too careful, etc.

The other people named in the article are bound to be looked upon by people as associated with the crime too.


Steve Cooke

So much for the right to a free and fair trial. It's high time the presumption of innocence was legally enforced to cover the accused from the moment of arrest up to the conclusion of the legal process.


Anonymous said...

Phil, it will come as no surprise to you that I completely agree with you on this. The NUJ Code of Conduct is pretty clear on this, but as journalistic standards dumb down in the shadow of increasing profits, the corporations would rather sell a few more rags today than worry about the potential future consequences of what they are writing.

The irony of all the crap they have written on the two suspects so far is that if either were ever to be charged, they would both now have very strong cases to say that their trials had been prejudiced and potentially the real murderer would get off...

All this suggests to me is that the hacks on the ground in Suffolk know only too well that the cops are clutching at straws and these two guys in custody are clearly innocent - meaning that they can print what the hell they like because they know there will never be a trial to prejudice...

A free press is vital, but one that is free to bully individuals because they happen to have been in the wrong place at the wrong time and not have many friends is not something I could ever defend.



Phil said...

I thought we'd be of one mind on this issue.

Even worse than the Grauniad article was The Sun's front page today - a picture of Steven Wright with his hands jokingly placed around another woman's neck.

As far as I'm concerned the editors responsible for this and other prejudicial media coverage should be charged with perverting the course of justice.

Hannah said...

It's not just the newspapers- television news sounds increasingly like the presenters are reading tabloid headlines in the place of news. Everything is exagerated and sensationalised.