Letter from the i editor: Bursting with opinions and questions


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The Independent Online

So, judging by i’s bulging weekend mailbox, it’s safe to say that you are back from your holidays, fit to burst with opinions and questions.

One question answered today is that in Cooper Brown’s place we have a line-up of sparkling columnists from our senior editing team. They’ll tackle consumerism, politics, family life, foreign affairs and society. The columns are called Freeview, to make clear these are their individual opinions, not i leaders in disguise.

A question many of you asked was why i, like other papers, pixellated the face of the young man running with the knife in that stunning photograph from the Notting Hill Carnival, taken moments after a man (in shot) had been stabbed and as a passer-by tried to trip up the running youth. One reader even asked how I could sleep at night for not aiding the police in identifying a suspect? The point is that, in cases like this, the testimony of eyewitnesses who have identified a defendant as the person they saw commit the crime is likely to be tainted by the fact that they have seen his face in the media and could be said to have picked him out at an ID parade on the basis of that knowledge, rather than their actual recollection of the event. Editors have been convicted of contempt of court (an extremely serious criminal offence) for precisely this.

We did not know if the youth in the picture was one of those arrested, so could not know if there was any countervailing argument in identifying him to help the police catch him. So, we pixellated his face. In the early hours Scotland Yard asked that media remove pixellation as it had not arrested him. The Yard later said it had the youth so the face should not be shown any longer as it may prejudice his trial. Anyway, he is 16, a juvenile, and should not have been identified. I hope that helps.