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Media behaving badly

“Rogue journalists” seeking more information on the five women murdered in Ipswich have been trying to get into the town’s hospital mortuary, according to a report in the local Evening Star.

The paper quotes a hospital spokeswoman saying people found in inappropriate areas were believed to be from the foreign media and not from any UK organisations.

And British media have been ignoring requests not to use pictures of the two arrested men who are being questioned by police about the murder of five prostitutes.

Yet the Evening Star, which probably has a stronger interest than most in publishing the pictures, decided against.

The Star’s editor, Nigel Pickover, says in his blog: “There are questions about whether identity of the suspects will be an issue – in which case publication of photographs of them could lead to a charge of contempt of court.”

He points out that the chief constable of Suffolk has written to the media twice on the subject and says his paper’s legal team has also strongly advised against publication of the pictures.

At the Press Gazette today, Mike Dodd, the Press Association’s media law expert, takes a different approach. “Has anyone said that he’s guilty? In what way is the reporting prejudicial? At the moment all they [newspapers] are doing is creating background,” he says.

And he calls for a change in the current law in which a case becomes “active” at the point of an arrest. “The law is too strict. With the Suffolk murders, this is something of great public interest and the great British public have a right to know,” he said.

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  1. victoria Cook says

    If the law was changed so that the case became ‘active’ upon arrest wouldn’t this mean there was a greater risk of being found in contempt of court when reporting anything about a suspect?