Bryne: 'We will never give up until we have truth about Miller'

Channel 4's head of news has told the Israeli ambassador to the UK that his government's reputation among British journalists will continue to suffer until it brings James Miller's killer to justice.

Miller, a freelance cameraman who had worked for Channel 4, was killed by an Israeli soldier in Gaza in May 2003 while he was filming a documentary.

He was carrying a white flag and wearing clothing with the letters TV written on it.

Channel 4 head of news and current affairs Dorothy Byrne said: "I have told the Israeli ambassador we will go on and on and we will never give up until you tell the truth.

"You will never have a good reputation among journalists in this country until justice has been done for James Miller. I know that other broadcasters have done that as well.

"We do not take the view at Channel 4 that you have to have worked for us in order for us to care about you at the moment at which you die. We are aware that freelances need our help and support."

In a debate at the Frontline Club last Thursday, news chiefs from leading broadcasters discussed how they could improve the protection they offer freelances covering stories in areas of conflict.

Byrne said that when commissioning footage from freelances safety is a fundamental issue. Freelances are asked to document how they will keep safe, and one of the first questions asked his how experienced they are.

Byrne said: "I sometimes sit down with people and say to them, ‘I personally am instructing you not to take undue risk. I make people write down the names of all their family and I read them out. I say, ‘I will be the woman ringing your family so you are not to take inordinate risk'."

BBC head of newsgathering Fran Unsworth admitted that deciding whether to use footage gathered by freelances who have put themselves at undue risk was a complicated matter.

She asked: "As employers what do we do here? If a freelance offers material without a commission, what is the responsibility of the broadcaster?

Should they take the material, should they not take the material?

"If, by taking the material, they are encouraging others to put their lives at risk, what should they do? I don't know the answer."

International News Safety Institute director Rodney Pinder was critical of the new generation of journalists who lacked experience in covering areas of conflict.

He said: "There are far too many journalists going naked into war. I'm talking about youngsters who pick up a camera at Dixons in Heathrow and head for the nearest war.

"They don't know what they're doing, they don't know what they're going into, they don't know anything about modern munitions or anything about the background of the situations they are going to cover. They are cannon fodder."

All the broadcasters present paid tribute to Martin Adler, the Anglo- Swedish freelance who was shot dead while filming in Mogadishu in Somalia.

Adler's brother, who attended the meeting, said there was a possibility that the Swedish international prosecution authority may consider instigating a pre-investigation into the incident.

He said: "My brother Peter and I feel very strongly that, whether or not we can find out who killed Martin, we have to be seen to be doing something about it and to encourage authorities to investigate it as fully as possible."

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