Friday 22nd June 2018,
North Yorks Enquirer

Ethical Journalism: NYE quoted in “The Journalist”

January 21, 2018 Police

Ethical Journalism: NYE quoted in “The Journalist”

NYE Comment on Ethics in Journalism

Scarborough is lucky to have a free and diverse local media, that holds local public bodies, Councillors and council officers to account.

This is part of the democratic process.

I know that many local people and Councillors recognise the importance of having diverse and challenging local media and are supportive of having local citizen journalists active in Scarborough and Whitby.

It is important that the media conducts itself ethically, itself submits to scrutiny and responds to criticism. The NYE is arguably one of the leading outlets for citizen journalism in the UK and has recently run a series of my articles concerning ethical reporting, the press and the police:

To give our readers further confidence in the quality of NYE journalism, I would like to return to the issue of journalistic standards. Below is the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) Code of Conduct.

This code sets out the requirements of the NUJ for ethical and principled journalism.

I am a member of the NUJ and as a citizen journalist I adhere to the above code. In my opinion, it is a good guide; however, it is not perfect.

Media Reporting of the Investigation into Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse against Sir Edward Heath.

I have been particularly disappointed and saddened by the quality of the media coverage of the Wiltshire Police investigation into allegations of Child Sexual Abuse against Sir Edward Heath by some journalists. Operation Conifer suffered a barrage of aggressive criticism – much of it personalised against the Chief Constable Mike Veale – from Mr Heath’s friends, family and senior Conservative political figures. This was even before it had issued its final report. In a sensitive investigation involving victims of childhood victims of sexual abuse, this could have deterred victims from coming forward and damaged the investigation. In my view that was unethical and unacceptable.

Unusually, on the 2nd of December 2015, Chief Constable Veale – in my view very properly – issued a public statement about Operation Conifer expressing his determination to “impartially investigate allegations without fear or favour, and go where the evidence takes us”. BBC Report here.

The vast majority of the press and parliamentary comment was highly critical and demonstrated bias. I felt at the time – and still feel – that this was unfair. The investigation was in line with policing policy and Chief Constable Veale’s officers were acting impartially under orders in the normal way, to conduct a national investigation. It was a commendable act of leadership for him to express his confidence in his officers and speak out against media intrusion.

Conducted an impartial, professional investigation despite media intrusion and excessive personal criticism

The NYE faced a similar onslaught from similar vested interests during our investigation, which confirmed that Conservative Mayor and Councillor Peter Jaconelli was a paedophile and an active criminal. So I know how damaging and hurtful this relentless criticism can be. This onslaught is still ongoing and has been detailed elsewhere. It is well known to our readers and does not require repetition here.

NYE Journalist Quoted in “The Journalist” on the Sir Edward Heath investigation.

The NYE has been quoted in “The Journalist” (the NUJ magazine that is sent to all of its members in the UK and the Republic of Ireland) on this topic. This letter was submitted to “The Journalist” for publication on the 10th of September 2017 and published at the end of December 2017 – long before the news that Chief Constable Veale would be leaving Wiltshire Police was in the public domain. The comment is below.

I am very happy that the NUJ is prepared to publish criticism of itself in its professional magazine. This shows an organisation that is open to criticism and prepared to consider change. 

Chief Constable Mike Veale proposed as new Chief Constable of Cleveland Police.

I was very saddened to read that Chief Constable Veale would be leaving Wiltshire Police. Official announcement from Wiltshire Police here.

Cleveland Police have announced that Chief Constable Veale is the preferred candidate to be the next Chief Constable of Cleveland Police, following the retirement of Chief Constable Iain Spittle. Announcement from the Cleveland Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) here.

I am of the opinion that the media criticism of Chief Constable Veale may have played a part in his departure from Wiltshire Police and if this is so, it is unfortunate. Telegraph article giving the background to Chief Constable Veale’s departure here.

Quoted in the BBC:

  • Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Angus Macpherson thanked Mr Veale for his “unwavering commitment and dedication” to Wiltshire Police. “Since 2015, he has been an excellent chief constable and has guided Wiltshire Police through immense change to a position where it is amongst the top performing forces in the country.”
  • David Ibbott, chair of the Wiltshire Police Federation said: “Mike Veale was one of the best chief constables of my 17 years at Wiltshire Police. Cleveland’s gain is Wiltshire’s loss. I’m hugely disappointed in the PCC. It is extraordinary that the PCC in Cleveland can see to appoint Mike Veale as chief but our own could not.”

Cleveland Police has been mired in major controversy for many years. The NYE has covered some of this. An article I wrote on the disbandment of its Professional Standards Department for abusing police powers, conducting an illegal surveillance operation on journalists and conducting a campaign of harassment against policemen who spoke out against misconduct can be read here.

Reforming Cleveland Police will be a major undertaking, if it is to avoid being disbanded and amalgamated into North Yorkshire and/or Durham. I suspect that Mr Veale is a strong man that will not shy away from unpopular or difficult decisions. Essential qualities for a Chief Police Officer under these circumstances.

The Cleveland Police & Crime Panel will meet on 23 January to confirm the appointment of Mr Veale as the new Chief Constable of Cleveland.

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