Editor breaks silence to condemn vigilante action

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The Independent Online

Rebekah Wade, the editor of the News of the World, broke her silence yesterday over the paper's attempt to "name and shame" known paedophiles with a strong defence of the controversial campaign.

Rebekah Wade, the editor of the News of the World, broke her silence yesterday over the paper's attempt to "name and shame" known paedophiles with a strong defence of the controversial campaign.

She said the decision to launch the now-suspended campaign had been a considered one, based on the "immense gap between public opinion and public policy".

In a signed leader comment in her newspaper yesterday she wrote: "I was aware that it could prompt some passionate reaction because we at the News of the World have always known how deeply people feel about the threat these sick individuals pose to children.

"Throughout the campaign we have counselled strongly against vigilante action and the mindless minority who ruined the peaceful protests by the parents of Paulsgrove deserve only contempt." She added: "But it is an unfortunate fact that, pushed to the extreme, otherwise reasonable citizens are forced into vigilante action."

The tabloid launched its campaign to identify known paedophiles following the abduction and murder of Sarah Payne in West Sussex last month. It was forced to end it following criticism from the police that it was responsible for a wave of violent demonstrations. In addition, two convicted paedophiles committed suicide while two others were freed from court after a judge ruled that they had suffered unfairly as a result of being identified by the paper.

Ms Wade yesterday also turned on the "few" critics of her campaign. She wrote: "Our critics are a tiny minority. An unknown Labour MP, a judge and two newspaper editors - Simon Kelner of The Independent and Charles Moore of The Daily Telegraph.''

Last night, Mr Kelner, editor-in-chief of The Independent, said: "I don't feel that The Independent has at all been in a minority in regarding the News of the World campaign as irresponsible and wrong-headed.

"Thus far, this campaign has led to public disorder, innocent people being forced to leave their homes and convicted paedophiles being freed into the community. I would relish the opportunity to debate these points face to face with Rebekah Wade in public."

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