In February, two editors complained to Press Gazette that the Metropolitan Police had refused to issue pictures of convicted murderers and were quoted the Human Rights Act as a reason.
Andrew Parkes, group editor of Newsquest’s News Shopper series, based in South-East London and Kent, said the Met press office refused to provide a picture of John Barnett, who had stabbed his wife to death.
Parkes told Press Gazette: “The Met said it was a human rights issue and mentioned the Data Protection Act, which are the two things they routinely trot out.”
The Whitstable Gazette complained when the Met refused a request for a picture of Whitstable student Adam Fretson-Davies, who stabbed his flatmate to death. He had been convicted of murder but the paper was told it was not in the public interest to release a photograph of him for publication.
The paper also said the press office refused to release the picture of a convicted blackmailer and police impersonator, claiming it would be in breach of the Human Rights Act.
Senior editor Bob Bounds said: “Surely the human rights of a murderer or blackmailer should not be more important than those of the public who should have every right to see the face of a man who has committed such crimes and could be in the community again within 10 years?” But Bob Cox, chief press officer at New Scotland Yard, told Press Gazette : “We weigh up each case and if we find there is a justification that would lead to further victims coming forward, or of identifying more cases, we will issue pictures.
“Each case is judged on its merits and we will issue pictures as long as there is justification.”
A Kent Police press office spokeswoman also told Press Gazette : “If we are approached for a picture then we will go to the senior investigating officer. It is up to them whether they consider it a reasonable enough sentence to issue a picture”