Met chief accuses media of 'racism' over murder cases

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The Independent Online

Britain's most senior police officer has accused the media of "institutional racism" over its reporting of murders.

Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said murders in minority communities appeared "not to interest the mainstream media".

He highlighted the recent "terrible" murder ofTom ap Rhys Pryce, 31, the lawyer who was mugged and stabbed to death close to the north-west London home which he shared with his fiancée.

The murder of Balbir Matharu, an Asian man with two children who was dragged to his death by two car-stereo thieves, received little press coverageby comparison, he said. The two murders happened on the same day this month.

Sir Ian said that "almost nobody" could understand why the "dreadful" story of the Soham murders became "the biggest story in Britain". When asked later about this remark, the Commissioner said he was highlighting the fact that while this was a "dreadful crime", other dreadful crimes did not get the same attention.

He was speaking at the Metropolitan Police Authority's monthly meeting, where he was asked to give an assurance that his force delivered a "proportional response" to all murders.

Sir Ian said: "I am pretty furious. We do devote the same level of resources to murders in relation to their difficulty ... What the difference is, is how these are reported. I actually believe that the media is guilty of institutional racism in the way they report deaths.

"That death of the young lawyer was terrible, but an Asian man was dragged to his death, a woman was chopped up in Lewisham, a chap shot in the head in a Trident murder - they got a paragraph on page 97."

He added: "With one or two exceptions... the reporting of murder in minority communities appears not to interest the mainstream media."

Sir Ian said that his force had to respond to press interest. He added: "Police need the assistance of the media when investigating murders, whatever the background of the victims as publicity can greatly assist in identifying both witnesses and suspects."