Serving professional journalism since 1912

Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Support for Press claims over Harris


DATE: 20 June 2014

[frame align=”left”] CIoJ logo [/frame]The Chartered Institute of Journalists has backed the two national newspapers who blame post Leveson paranoia for the police initially refusing to confirm Rolf Harris was being investigated.

Dominic Cooper for CIoJ said: “These actions are exactly what we warned and feared would transpire in the wake of the Leveson Inquiry. The biggest losers in this instance could be the additional victims of a sexual predator.

“Hacked Off and their acolytes have championed celebrity protection from the media and it would appear that on this occasion they largely achieved it courtesy of the police.

“Is this really what the public want or deserve? Do they want journalists fearful of putting allegations in the public domain? Are they now happy that during this trial a further 12 alleged victims came forward which means more cost to the public purse.”

Harris was placed on police bail in November 2012 after being interviewed under caution as part of Operation Yewtree, looking at all sexual abuse reports involving celebrities in the wake of the Jimmy Savile allegations, but the police protected his name. Again, when Harris was formally arrested on 28 March 2013, police did not identify him – leaving journalists unable to stand up the story.

Although Harris’ name did appear on social media the press did not dare report it until The Sun broke the pattern on 19 April 2013.

Mr Cooper added: “We do not want the excellent job newspapers do, scrutinising the actions of the rich and powerful, blocked by legal and political power walls.”





Notes for Editors:

  • The Sun says: “To their shame the Metropolitan police, revelling in the new culture of secrecy launched by Lord Justice Leveson’s abject inquiry, refused to identify him… even after his name was put to them for confirmation… . It may be too much to hope that the celebrities backing Hacked Off’s tribal war on the tabloids would ever pause to think what they’re doing. But let them not pretend, as they do, that Leveson’s recommendations have anything but grave consequences for our press and our democracy.”
  • In a second editorial in the Daily Mail entitled Secrecy betrays Justice they also raise the celebrity legal terriers which fired off aggressive threatening legal letters to newspapers – citing the Leveson inquiry – which argued there was no public interest in reporting he was under investigation for historic sex attacks.

The Mail argues that “disturbingly, post-Leveson, there are many examples of police holding, arresting and even charging suspects in secret”, adding: “This chilling practice is not only an affront to open justice and the hallmark of totalitarian regimes. It also hands a gift to predators like Harris who depend upon their frightened victims believing they are on their own.”

  • Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.