Letter: Trial by TV

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Jeff Anderson, the editor of Tonight, offers us a self-contradictory statement in trying to justify the televised interviews of the suspects in the Stephen Lawrence case ("Lawrences object to TV interview", 8 April). It is important to scrutinise Mr Anderson's flawed reasoning now that the programme has been broadcast and has, in the view of many, been seen to have failed to advance the cause of justice in any way.

Mr Anderson said: "The programme includes significant new material which may open new avenues of inquiry for the police. However, we are confident it will not prejudice any possible future prosecution of the five suspects." The programme, however, was heavily edited and openly hostile to the interviewees. If "significant new material" was introduced (and that is arguable), the fact that it was delivered to us as part of a hostile, indignant, journalistic case is obviously prejudicial to any new trial based on the new material.

For the programme-makers to have treated the wishes of the Lawrences and their friends and lawyers with such cold contempt in a bid for some first-night headline-catching is simply shameful.


The Law Programme

The Open University

Milton Keynes