Letter: Threat to investigative journalism

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Sir: As an organisation of independent film-makers, we are appalled at the fine imposed on Channel 4 for its Dispatches programme (1 August). Gareth Williams, QC, apparently went out of his way to avoid using arguments which would appeal for Channel 4 on behalf of the freedom of the press or for the public right to know, with his apologetic statement 'I know this old friend has been wheeled out too often.'

The Parliamentary Bill that set up Channel 4 stated clearly that the channel must be innovative in form and content. This the Dispatches programme on Northern Ireland clearly did, at much risk to the programme makers, given the political and cultural climate that militates against such investigative journalism, as we saw over Death on the Rock.

Channel 4 was precisely set up with a remit which embodies the principle of the freedom of expression and the public right to know. The law used to impose this fine threatens the raison d'etre of Channel 4, let alone makes a mockery of our 'old friend'.

Yours faithfully,


Screen Forum

London, EC1