Media warned not to identify Suffolk murder suspects

Journalists have been warned by Suffolk Police not to identify two men arrested in connection with the Suffolk prostitute murders.

Yesterday Suffolk Police wrote to editors urging them not to identify "a 37-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of the murder of five women in Ipswich."

They said that "legal proceedings are active" and said: "We would kindly ask that the media do not publish any material that may hinder the investigation, especially where identification might be an issue, or may prejudice the right of anyone to a fair trial at a future date."

But despite the risk of breaching the Contempt of Court Act – nearly every national newspaper today named Tom Stephens as a suspect and published his picture.

Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter sent a second letter to all newspaper editors today, following the arrest of another man in connection with the case.

He said: "We would ask that the media do not publish any material that may hinder the investigation, especially where identification may be an issue, or may prejudice the right of anyone to a fair trial at a later date.

“I put you on notice that Suffolk Constabulary will take all necessary legal steps to ensure the integrity of all future legal proceedings.”

As well as publishing Stephens' picture, many media outlets have repeated comments he made to the Sunday Mirror before his arrest in which he protests his innocence.

Meanwhile, the BBC has defended its decision to broadcast an off the record interview with Stephens.

BBC Five Live, The News at Ten and Newsnight have all broadcast an interview given for “background purposes” by Stephens to BBC Newsbeat despite accusations from leading lawyers that such action may be prejudicial to any future trial.

Adrian Van Klaveren, the BBC's deputy director of news, told Newsnight last night: “We then had to think about the ethical issues around deciding to release a conversation that had been done on a different basis. We felt that in these very extraordinary and very rare circumstances, there was actually a justification for doing that.”

A BBC spokesman said that Newsbeat reporter, Trudi Barber, had met Stephens outside the police incident room in Ipswich.

The following day she interviewed him for "background purposes" and Stephens requested that the material not be broadcast.

Van Klaveren said that the BBC had considered whether broadcasting the material would be in the public interest or if it would prejudice any potential legal trial.

“We assured ourselves that was not the case,” he stated.

Barber and the BBC’s head of programme legal advice, Valerie Nazareth were unavailable for comment.

Sunday Mirror's exclusive interview with Ipswich murder suspect

Crime reporters warned against speculation

 

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