England’s Riots and the media’s role

John Leech MP, Cllr Charles Glover and Cllr James Hennigan at Manchester Riot clean up


Yesterday, Parliament was recalled for a statement on the riots and a debate on the disturbances. MPs were rightly recalled for the first time in many years after the disgraceful scenes first, in Tottenham which spread to other parts of London and then across many towns and cities in England. A number of MPs returned from their holidays, including Heidi Alexander, who was on her honeymoon! I was fortunate that I was not away, and I had been on hand in Manchester to see the shocking scenes on Tuesday evening. I was involved in the cleanup of the City Centre the following morning where residents and politicians joined traders and business owners in helping getting the city back on its feet. There were reports of between 300 and a thousand people helping out that morning and it just shows how proud we are of our great city.
At a meeting with the police and Police Authority in the afternoon I asked the Chief Constable if the press had contacted the police and offered to provide footage, including unseen images to assist the police in bringing criminals to justice. I was shocked to hear that they had not. During the Prime Minister’s statement the following morning I asked the PM whether he would encourage media organisations to immediately hand over unseen footage that would assist the police in bringing criminals to justice. David Cameron said he would and I subsequently wrote to media organisations to ask them to co-operate and had other any footage that would help the police. It was therefore very disappointing that the BBC, ITN and SKY News have all refused my request, insisting that a Court order will be needed before they release any footage. So far only the Manchester Evening News has reacted positively – they are happy to release the footage and will not oppose a section 9 PACE production order that the police will now serve on them.
I’m shocked by the response from most of the media. In the Murdock owned Sun newspaper yesterday their headline on page 9 was “Shop Another Moron”, encouraging anyone who recognises anyone from the CCTV coverage to ring Crimestoppers. In their Editorial on Page 8 they say “Let the cops do their job” and complain that the police are being hampered by human rights legislation. So why is the Murdoch owned Sky News stating that they will only cooperate if forced to by the Courts? How can they tell people that they should be “shopping another moron”, when they are not prepared to help the police by providing potentially vital evidence without being forced to by the Courts? It’s time for them to practise what they preach – get that footage sent to the police so they can do their job and bring the criminals to justice.

7 responses to “England’s Riots and the media’s role

  1. Hiya John, hope you’re well. I forgive your spelling mistake 😉 we all make them at time. I bet you won’t make that one again!

    I look forward to your reply to my question to you on Facebook, when you get chance. If the answer lies above, I apologise because I’ve not read it yet. I just haven’t time to read everything. Either that, or peace of mind, one or the other 🙂

    All the best,

    I still don’t like the coalition. Don’t know why you were prepared to work with the Cons. Some fool this morning was saying rubbish about Labour, saying they’d given up. He’s an idiot, or at least I think that opinion is idiotic.

    Very best regards,
    Wendy.

  2. I’ve now read what you wrote in your web log, and just want to say “Thank you” for what you did as detailed above. Good work I reckon.

    Speak later, best wishes
    Wendy.

  3. I think it is right to ‘shop a looter/moron’; the fact that the call from a News International publication is immaterial. It is not good to confuse 2 separate issues.

    Where do you stand on the sentences being handed out to the rioters? It seems that the liberal elite have struck again decrying the excessive (sic) sentences. It is time that we as a society punished criminals and not pandered to or hide behind woolley Human Rights legislations. The Human Rights of the victims and the lawful majority should have precedence. A punishment should be a punishment and should HURT.

  4. Vivek, I wasn’t confusing the two issues. I agree that people should assist the police in bringing these criminals to justice. The point I was making was that they should be assisting the police and providing evidence that would help the police to convict those who were committing offences.
    As far as sentences are concerned I think we should leave it to the Courts to decide what is the appropriate sentence. Each case should be judged on its own merits.

  5. Pingback: Manchester Riots: One Year On | John Leech MP·

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