By Wale Azeez
The perennial debate on whether or not journalists should intervene in events or merely record them was brought into sharp relief this week after BBC investigative reporters prevented a convicted paedophile from seducing his young victim while filming.
Kenyon Confronts: followed convicted paedophiles
BBC1’s Kenyon Confronts has just completed filming for a forthcoming episode on the ease with which convicted paedophiles continue to work with children.
In the programme, reporters followed three men on the sex offenders’ register to prove that they held positions of authority over children, despite their status.
But journalists on the programme made the decision to call the police when one of the paedophiles was caught on camera as he led a young boy into his home.
According to Paul Kenyon, frontman of the investigative show, there was never a question of allowing the boy to be abused by a convicted paedophile, despite the risk of the programme’s broadcast schedule being delayed under sub judice, in the event of prosecution.
“We’d decided early on that if we saw something potentially threatening or dangerous, we’d intervene,” Kenyon told Press Gazette this week.
“The boy was clearly in a position of potential danger, so we had to intervene. In other situations, such as with the race-fixing episode, it was in the public’s interest to continue filming. That was clearly not the case this time,” he added.
The man in question, from the Midlands, was previously convicted for the sexual abuse of children aged as young as seven and spent 18 months in prison. He currently runs a market stall selling toys and employs children.
As David Baxter, an assistant producer on the show, saw the man arrive home with the boy, he phoned series producer Kate Middleton to inform her of his intention to call the police immediately.
Arriving within three minutes of the call, the police found the boy fully clothed in the man’s bed, before any abuse had taken place. They then arrested the man on suspicion of child abduction.
The case went on to court, but the police were unable to secure a conviction because the boy refused to give evidence against the man.
The programme airs on Wednesday 29 January.