Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Jenkins: British press 'chief enemy' of freedom

Simon Jenkins in the Guardian today says of the reporting of the Jon Venables case: "The chief enemy of British freedom at present is the British press."
Jenkins criticises the tabloids and the BBC, claiming a prosecution of Venables is now near impossible.
Jenkins writes: "BBC News, now chasing ratings with tabloid fervour, covered the Venables case extensively. His crime was "almost too terrible to contemplate", it announced, before contemplating it at length. The tabloids went into full outrage mode. The Sun offered perhaps the most prejudicial front page in modern times, declaring: "On a scale of 1 to 5, Venables' child porn rated 4."
"Leading a pack that included the Mirror and Mail titles, the Sun was unfazed by an attempted government injunction of restraint. It wrote of "experts horrified" at Venables' computer material, "among the most depraved and serious anyone could possess" and involving "an element of sexual violence against children". There was no sign of Venables having done more than allegedly look at porn images."
He adds: "Cases involving children are emotional, but there is no reason for politicians and the press abetting each other to make them more so. Venables had shown remorse and is said to be a candidate for rehabilitation. He may not be entitled to the benefit of any doubt, but justice is entitled to its dignities.
Instead, Venables' prosecution has been rendered near impossible."

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