Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jo Yeates detectives ban ITV News from press conference, reporter Geraint Vincent needs to learn the difference between facts and speculation

Dear All

The investigation of murder isn’t an easy task by any means, it is like setting foot in a minefield where every step has to be deliberate and considered.

Officers investigating the murder of Jo Yeates have banned ITV News from a press conference.

And unsurprisingly there has been a media backlash.

The unusual move came after reporter Geraint Vincent suggested detectives were not carrying out routine inquiries properly during last night's News at Ten.

If you hold a press conference then you have to expect to be pressured or be asked awkward questions.

And the Officers could have rubbished that claim quite easily by asking what are his qualifications and experience in Police work.

The Police are clearly rattled in what has turned into a high profile murder with intense public interest.

Unfortunately unless someone is caught red handed screaming ‘I done it, I done it’ then patience and diligence is required.

Matters have not been helped by a police officer in charge of the investigation taking the time to apparent side swipe a national newspaper by rubbishing the significance of CCTV pictures published today.

Images in The Daily Mirror show an unidentified woman walking close to Miss Yeates's home on the evening she vanished.

The value of that isn’t significant as people walk along roads in the UK.

I would say that some of the newspaper coverage concerning the Landlord Chris Jefferies has been disgraceful.

As the designed weirdo with a bad haircut, he was tried and convicted by the press pretty quickly.

It got so bad that Tory MP Dominic Grieve, the attorney-general spoke out about the damage being done by the media in what I would describe as ‘breakfast time sofa investigation’.

DCI Jones heading up the investigation is described as a highly experienced officer; if he can’t handle the media then he should step off and allow the appointment of someone else.

Bristol and Avon police have hit back by complaining to Ofcom for what it called 'unfair, naïve and irresponsible reporting' during the piece to camera by Geraint Vincent.

In a statement, it added:

“As we are still awaiting a response to our complaint it would be inappropriate for us to comment any further at this time. A live murder investigation has been underway now for just 12 days and the media have played an important role in helping us to appeal for witnesses. While we appreciate the support we have received so far from most of the media we must step in if we feel coverage will hamper the investigation. Our primary aim will always be to secure justice for Joanna.”

David Mannion, the editor-in-chief of ITV News responded by saying:

“We stand by our story and we also stand by the procedure which the police have now taken [to complain to Ofcom]. If Ofcom decides to uphold that complaint we will respect that”.

Mannion added:

“There's an issue in the interim period if we have a situation where there's numbers of the press summarily banned from press conferences and that's what happened this morning before the complaint was made. We made numerous attempts to contact Avon and Somerset police between eight and 10 before the programme went out and didn't get a single response.”

Is Mannion under the opinion that the Police should drop everything because ITN have rung up?

The Police are trained in crime scene investigation and if they get can’t the case solved to meet an evening news slot then it’s too bad.

For their part, Bristol and Avon police have over reacted and made themselves look silly by banning the press.

Appoint some who can handle the media and move on, we live in a 24/7 news world, the Police however have difficulty dealing with the fact there is a new aspect to reporting, 24/7 comment.

Police should not have investigating officers commenting on their investigation, the Met rather wisely don’t do this practice but it should be the norm up and down the country.

This is an unnecessary distraction and we should all remember, this is a murder investigation not a carnival.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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