political commentator * author * publisher * bookseller * radio presenter * blogger * Conservative candidate * former lobbyist * Jack Russell owner * West Ham United fanatic * Email iain AT iaindale DOT com
Saturday, November 17, 2007
Don't Mention Peter Tobin...
At 11.45pm I will be doing the News 24 paper review. However, just like on Sky last night, I am not allowed to mention Peter Tobin's name. Or the fact that he is a convicted sex killer. Or the fact that it's his former house where the two teenagers bodies' have been dug up. All this despite the fact that none of the newspapers have any reservations about doing all three. Oh well, I suppose I can always talk about football instead. Or the YouGov poll in which the Tories have a six point lead. Or Lord West's latest gaffe. Tune in at 11.45!
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It's not a political story is it? So why would you be mentioning it? Why is this exercising you so? Do you really think it would be useful to have unscripted comment on this matter on live television?
Chris, the remit of a paper reviewer is to cover what is in the papers, especially on the front pages. I don't just do political stories, although this evening I shall be, apart from the footie. The Tobin story is a very big story in tomorrow's papers. In the Sunday Times they have a two page spread titled BLOODY PAST OF THE MARGATE MONSTER, yet I am forbidden to mention it on the BBC or Sky despite it being in all the papers.
Scottish law is very different from English law. And the Scottish editions of your newspapers will be treating the story very differently. So, when you are broadcasting to the nation, you have to be very careful. At the moment, nobody's worked out how to police the net to take these factors into account, but beware.....
Its called Democracy- we are not allowed to do or say much today and that is with Daves Blessing- Take note re the Sexual Orientations Bill where Christians are not allowed to express their two thousand tear old beliefs- or the 6.7 million people killed in the name of abortion- they did not have a say either- Or the hundreds of tory approved candidates who have been denied the opportunity of a Say.
I bet you wont publish this Iain, it may fall under the realm of censorship or more poshly moderation.
The BBC were pretty quick to put that innocent guy in the frame for the Ipswich prostitute murders. Some of the most shameful tabloid reporting I can remember.
Not sure what you're trying to say, Iain - that you should be able to talk about the Tobin thing because it's only sub judice in Scotland?
But you seem to forget that 'the papers' you talk about are actually the English editions of the papers. The Scottish editions of the Times etc can't talk about the story - and as TV is a national (i.e. British medium), you can't talk about it there either. Seems pretty simple to me.
Or are you attacking the idea of Scotland having a separate legal system? Brave of you to do so...not even Edward II did!
I assume Chris Paul must have had another quiet day on his blog. But then what's new?
You'd think he'd spend his time, when he's not walking his dogs or training for his charity run, studying the latest opinion polls that show his beloved Labour's leader has a minus 10% rating compared to Dave-id. How is Chris, that consummate strategist, going to reverse the position?
Personally, I think "lions will fly" before Chris has any sort of impact on anything.
Will you be touching on the matter of these traitors?
It really looks like you are forbidden to report on anything much at all, doesn't it? Or should that be "Vortbodden"?
Oh, and those two killings in Northern Ireland last weekend. Guess where the IRA are now getting money from? Oh, but you don't know anything about that either, do you? That should wipe that smarmy smile off your face if they hit London again, shouldn't it?
"He who pays the piper..."
Why though does BBC news obscure Tobin's face, yet Sky News doesn't? They're both available nationally, both subject to the samme laws, so what gives?
Anon @ 2319, you're right.
The English editions of the papers present a lesser risk of prejudicing a trial in Scotland, where they are not published. The BBC is broadcast everywhere. Although frankly, so few people watch the News 24 paper review on a Saturday night that I don't see how it could create a "substantial risk" of "serious prejudice"
Anon @ 1207, you're right too.
Have you ever interviewed that pompous prick Tom Marigold?
Just seen him on the Andrew Marr with Norman Mailer and the Dr Kelly issue. What an out and out arrogant, pompous arsehole. Truly a fine example of a goverment lickspittle.
Wont be lack of volunteers to string him up should that joyful time come I shouldn't think.
I think Iain is saying he would like to say what he likes, irrespective of whether it prejudices a future prosecution or not. A pretty irresponsible view in my opinion. He'll toe the line because that will be the end of his tv career if he doesn't.
The point I am making is that while scripted coverage given the once over by trial conscious legal advisors is OK on live TV and by definition the papers are scripted and checked unscripted TV coverage is not a sensible option.
Therefore the professionals in this case are being perfectly reasonably in guiding live commentators away from the story.
Tobin will face trial for these alleged offences and others. I think you'll agree that it would be a terrible thing if any murderer got off in some way over unscripted comments by anyone appearing on TV? Hence these precautions.
I saw Tobin's face on the 10:30 ITN News on Friday. Same shots as the BBC but no blurring out. Aren't they subject to the law?
It isn't strictly a legal thing in this case. The BBC have tighter internal guidelines on reporting of pending prosecutions because they feel that they are particularly trusted as a news source and that their reports are more likely to influence potential jurors.
Newspapers and the net are least circumspect because people find it quite easy to set aside what they have read on those sources. Sky and ITV are somewhere in between.
The Scottish courts tend to take a harder line on pre-trial publicity, and the implications of this as contempt of court. There is an appeal progressing at the moment in the High Court of the Justiciary which turns on the issue. The conviction in the case came following protracted media speculation about the person subsequently convicted. The likelihood is the conviction will be overturned and the editors of various tabloids criticised and possibly face further action.
While the Contempt of Court Act applies UK-wide the Scottish courts have (rightly) taken a stricter line on the potential impact on the case. The BBC line is perfectly reasonable, the behaviour of the tabloids reprehensible. Perhaps a couple of prosecutions in the Scottish courts (where the Sheridan case lets us know what juries think of tabloids) will focus the mind.
Just thought I'd add in my tuppenceworth here.
The difference between the BBC and Sky News, ITV and the papers, is that they are publicly funded, hence subject to stricter controls on content - not quite censorship, but their public funded and national status means that they are deemed to be likely to have a greater impact on the viewing public, therefore have to be seen to be above reproach when it cmes to sub judice matters.
ITV wants to sell advertising and the papers want to sell, well, papers - so they don't worry too much.
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