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I'm a journalist, ex-national papers, now working in what we call "new" media.

Robert Murat, the Englishman currently under investigation over Madeleine McCann's abduction was dobbed in by a Sunday Mirror journalist, on grounds that seem vague, at best.

"He was very vague about his background. When I asked him he wouldn't give his surname or tell me where he lived. He wouldn't give me a phone number and he was vague about what he did for a living."

Time will tell whether or not the Mirror's suspicions were correct but I'm uncomfortable with journalists intervening in stories that they are working on. On the one hand, like any of us, they want to help the police and bring the investigation to a happy conclusion. On the other, they have an interest in moving the story on and creating headlines. Did this play a part in the Mirror's decision to report Murat to the police?

UPDATE: It was, of course, the Sunday Mirror that effectively fingered Tom Stephens in the Ipswich prostitute murders case. He turned out to be innocent but was given a few nasty days as prime suspect. I think reporters should stick to reporting and let the police do the sleuthing.


Anonymous said...

So you're saying that if a journalist genuinely suspects somebody, they should stay silent rather than report their suspicions to the police? Will you be saying the same thing if this individual is proved to have been involved?

And as for your suggestion that the Sunday Mirror may have decided to report Murat to the police to create a story, that's possibly the most stupid, hysterical and nonsensical thing I have ever heard. Our papers may be no angels, but there is no way they would interfere in a police investigation into a missing child purelt for their own benefit. Grow up!

simon said...

If a journalist has got clear and concrete evidence for suspicion, clearly s/he should tell the police. If the suspicions are of the 'he seemed a bit odd and wouldn't give me his phone number' variety, it's a good deal less clear.

ScoobyDoos Mum said...

I couldn't agree with Anonymous more. How anyone can think that a journalist (even a tabloid one) could do this without genuine reason is beyond me. It makes me call into question the values of those that are saying such rubbish - as journalists is this something they would be prepared to do?!

Simon - don't assume everyone shares the same (lack of) morals as you!

Anonymous said...

Am I missing something? How many of us in our right mind would give out our personal details to a tabloid hack on the make?

simon said...

It reminds me rather of the case of Tom Stephens, who was effectively fingered by the Sunday Mirror (again) as a prime suspect in the Ipswich murders case - I've posted a link at the end of the post. He turned out, of course, to be entirely innocent but only after what must have been a few highly uncomfortable days as prime supect in a serial-killing case. I think reporters should stick to reporting and leave the sleuthing to the police.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm also a jornalist and there is a point that you forget on that story... the women that add Murat in, is someone from Praia da Luz that dont work for the Sunday Mirror