The Citizen: defied police
An editor who defied police by naming a violent kidnapper after an attack on a teenage girl says he has been vindicated following the man’s conviction.
Spencer Feeney, editor of The Citizen, Gloucester, named Trevor Medley in a story last June after being contacted by the victim’s family.
Medley was on the run following a brutal attack on 18-year-old Victoria Mawson, whose family contacted Citizen crime reporter, Dennis Apperly and named her attacker.
After Apperly checked the story out through his contacts and interviewed Mawson, Feeney decided to run it naming Medley.
Apperly said police refused to confirm they were looking for Medley or release a photograph of him.
Feeney told Press Gazette he was paid a visit by a police inspector and two press officers who wanted The Citizen to stop identifying Medley.
"They tried to stop me naming him," said Feeney. "They mentioned human rights legislation, the possibility of prejudicing the case, increasing the public’s fear of crime and said we had sensationalised the story."
Nearly a month after The Citizen’s splash, Medley was caught by police. Last week he was convicted at Bristol Crown Court of kidnapping Mawson and causing her grievous bodily harm. The court heard he had committed 100 previous offences including robbery, kidnap and wounding. He is awaiting sentence.
Feeney said: "This is a vindication of the stance we took and the way we stood up to police pressure not to name him. The guy has been convicted and found guilty. The prosecution praised Victoria Mawson for coming forward and going to court."
Superintendent Paul Smithson, of Gloucestershire Police, told Press Gazette photographs of individuals being sought by police were released only in exceptional circumstances. Public safety, operational sensitivities, the likelihood of future court proceedings, current intelligence and the working knowledge of detectives involved were all taken into account.
"Contrary to Mr Feeney’s view, our belief was, and still is, that Medley’s case did not meet those exceptional circumstances," he said.
"At the time Medley was not considered a direct or immediate threat to the public at large and issuing his personal details before an arrest, charge or trial could have jeopardised the subsequent court hearing.
"We believe the fact that Medley was arrested, charged and subsequently convicted without the need to release his name or photograph illustrates we made the right decision and it is one we stand by."
By Jon Slattery