Thursday, January 06, 2011

Seriously Bad Idea

The Bristol murder enquiry that we have blogged about recently has taken a new twist: the police have banned a major news organisation from their press conferences because they do not like the questions they have been asking. (I understand that the police have now backed down, but no matter - the principle remains).
This investigation has not, so far, shown the press in a good light, as the (admittedly vague) rules on pre-charge reporting have been trampled in the dust, but for a police force to ban a specific news-gatherer because it doesn't like the questions they have asked is an outrageous step that overshadows the press misconduct that I have already criticised. This is England. We have a free if imperfect press. Anyone with the tiniest grasp of history will know that a free press is a vital part of a democratic state, and that the police are there to serve that state and that democracy. If Teresa May knows her job the Chief Constable of the force concerned should be standing in the next few days before her in her splendid office receiving the all-time tongue-lashing, and a sharp reminder of his duty and the limitations of his powers.

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