By linking Greater Manchester Police’s legal wrangles with Five,
with his experiences under our previous chief constable and the issues
around the Secret Policeman, Steve Panter has failed to identify the
genuine explanation for our action (15 April).
GMP’s attempts to
delay transmission of the “gangland” documentary were about protecting
a murder inquiry rather than being an Orwellian attempt to ban it.
knew about the documentary, its subject and content, for more than six
months prior to its broadcast. At no time did anyone at GMP suggest, or
consider, interfering with the transmission, until one of the men in
the programme was murdered and the context of the subject matter
We have a responsibility to protect the integrity of our
investigations and any subsequent prosecutions. The nature of the
documentary was such that we felt we had a duty to try and delay
transmission until after the crucial first weeks of the investigation,
during which witness co-operation is paramount.
granted at the High Court was overturned at the Court of Appeal later
that day. However, the judge remarked that the chief constable had been
entirely right in bringing the action, and that the result was no
reflection on GMP.
I would never sanction efforts to injunct a
programme merely because it is uncomfortable viewing for GMP and
without good legal reasoning. GMP did not consider an injunction
regarding the Secret Policeman either.
Whilst uncomfortable with
the methods used, we accepted that racism existed in the police service
and needed to be tackled – something we have made real progress on. I
met with Five following our court appearance and we agreed that each of
us had acted properly and professionally in an effort to protect the
Sarah Dean Forrester Head of Press Office Greater Manchester Police