User:Amelialindsay/Media footage may be demanded for UK riot investigations

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Friday, September 2, 2011

Journalists from the British newspapers The Times and The Sunday Times are expected to face legal investigation as part of a nationwide review of News International editorial practices.

The examination will include inquiry into emails and financial records along with a questionnaire asking methods undertaken by journalists to get stories, according to an unnamed News International source.

The development follows questions raised by the News of the World phone hacking scandal and is a second blow for the UK media, who were asked to hand over footage captured during the recent riots last week as part of police efforts to being lawbreakers to justice.

British media organisations ITN, The Guardian, The Times, and the BBC recently stated they would resist the police request for evidence, fearing they would be targeted and viewed as government agents.

“The police are identifying people through pictures, CCTV and through the media to ensure that people are brought to justice,” said a London Metropolitan Police spokesman. “We would ask the media to work with the police to ensure that happens.”

British Prime Minister David Cameron recently called for the media to act "responsibly" and assist police efforts.

BBC’s Fran Unsworth has stated such a move would compromise editorial standards and requests from police would not be followed unless it was properly processed via the court system.

This may be the case under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, which may force the media to legally hand over evidence. The law weighs both the interests of the police and free press to determine whether enforcement is necessary to further investigations.

The media's lack of cooperation with police suggestions has seen the public further question the credibility of the press, accusing it of holding a lack of social responsibility. The integrity of the UK press was put under scrutiny following the News of the World phone hacking scandal in July.

Both published and unpublished material would be handed to police as evidence.

Fears continue to grow regarding the relationship between the press and police in the UK, with many believing the police are acting above the law.

The National Union of Journalists in Britain recently urged the media to require proper procedure when assisting investigations, so that police do not to use them as “information gatherers”.

The union fears journalists involved in riot coverage may be put in danger if the media is released, particularly through attacks by those who the footage incriminates.

It is believed police throughout the UK are already using 40,000 hours of CCTV footage to investigate the incident which occurred last month.

Formal investigations into British media conduct will continue for the rest of the week.


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