Letter: Threat to investigative journalism

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The Independent Online
Sir: I am afraid your editorial is correct when it says that the result of Lord Justice Woolf's interpretation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act, with regard to Channel 4 and Box Productions, will lead many investigative journalists to steer clear of contentious areas, such as Northern Ireland. There are already sufficient reasons to avoid the journey - low audience figures, lack of support from some broadcasting organisations, general harassment.

It would help, however, if the editors of all our national newspapers talked to their correspondents who, I guess, would tell them in no short order that their day-to-day coverage of Northern Ireland would be impossible if they were to follow Lord Justice Woolf's interpretation of the law to the letter.

This should not be an issue which divides journalists in print from those in broadcasting but one which unites them. What I most fear is that broadcasters in future will wait for someone else to initiate the next confrontation with the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

We have had freedom of speech in this country for so long that we have mistaken it for freedom of information. If we now compare ourselves with the rest of Europe, and indeed with the countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain, we should perhaps conclude that freedom of information is more restricted here than anywhere else in the Western world.

Yours faithfully,


Controller, Network Factual


Thames Television

London, NW1