Broadcasters and journalists were putting pressure on the British Government this week to ensure that the Israeli authorities conduct a full criminal investigation into the death of documentary film-maker James Miller, shot by soldiers in the Gaza Strip two weeks ago.
As Foreign Secretary Jack Straw prepared to meet Silvan Shalom on Thursday, Channel 4 chief executive Mark Thompson sent a letter to Whitehall expressing “absolute horror” at Miller’s death. Thompson also dispatched letters to senior members of the Israeli Government, the judiciary and the army.
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Miller had recently made award-winning documentaries for the channel, including the RTS winner Beneath the Veil, with Saira Shah.
“An enquiry should be held by military police and headed by a judge,” the letter suggested. “Such an enquiry has wider ranging effects than an internal command [Israeli military] enquiry. They should consider eye witness statements from all those present, including journalists, aid workers and civilians, as well as IDF personnel.”
A further letter was sent to The Times on Wednesday signed by Dorothy Byrne, Channel 4’s acting head of news and current affairs; BBC head of current affairs Peter Horrocks; Nick Pollard, head of Sky News, and ITN chief executive and editor-in-chief Stewart Purvis. The news executives said they “trust that when the two ministers meet on Thursday, this issue will be high on the agenda”.
The NUJ also registered its support for a criminal enquiry. NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said: “We have complained in the past about Palestinian journalists being shot – often while working for western media – and now it appears they have turned their guns on the western media themselves.”
The calls for an investigation follow the conclusion of Miller’s autopsy, carried out by the Israeli National Forensic Institute. It is understood that evidence refuting the IDF line that Miller was shot from behind in crossfire with Palestinian militants, will be published.
Miller’s body has been returned to Britain and will be buried in London on 19 May.
By Wale Azeez