News groups attack Met's handling of media after London bombings

By Lou Thomas

National news
organisations have criticised the speed at which the Metropolitan
police issued advice to the media and the quality of information about
fatalities following the 7 July London bombings.

The Met was also criticised by journalists giving evidence to the
London Assembly’s 7 July Review Committee for threatening to place
newspapers in contempt of court for publishing photographs of the
bombed carriages that were broadcast in the US following the attack.

Editorial
director of LBC News Jonathan Richards said: “The confusion occurred
because the official police advice was: ‘Stay where you are, don’t move
around London.’ The police advice should have been updated a bit
quicker. If there is one, the next attack could be of a different
nature, and time could be more critical.”

Richards added that
fatalities weren’t mentioned officially until journalists started
reporting them. He said: “One of the strongest moments for our
listeners was when our reporters said a policeman came rushing up and
said ‘Get back, I’m clearing bodies off the track.'”

The 7/7
attacks saw news organisations inundated with photographs from the
public of the attack. The BBC alone received 50 images within an hour
of the first of the four bombs exploding.

Home news editor of The
Times, Oliver Wright, said: “We did get in huge trouble when images of
the Underground came out from the US, because the response from the Met
was you can’t use these, if you do you’ll be in contempt of court under
the Terrorism Act.

“It was a blanket ban that unfortunately for
them fell apart in a few hours, which perhaps wasn’t the most
successful response to the fact the pictures were out there on
broadcast on ABC and on the internet.”

Wright also added that there were complaints about how the QE2 conference centre, was set up for print journalists.

He
said: “Journalists were told that they couldn’t stay there after 6pm
and there wasn’t a Met press officer there at all times, which given
that the Met has quite a large press office, you wouldn’t have thought
difficult. Part of the problem was that rooms were being booked out
commercially and people were being moved on. The QE2 was one point of
contact that didn’t always work.”

But Sky News associate editor
Simon Bucks said: “The relationship has improved over the years. I
think the police did a bloody good job.”

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