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Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

CIoJ protests against the criminalisation of journalism

Press Release
Release date: 12 October 2020

The Chartered Institute of Journalists expresses its deep concern that the Metropolitan Police are formally investigating journalist Darren Grimes over his controversial podcast interview on YouTube with the historian David Starkey in June.

It is understood Mr Grimes is suspected of ‘stirring up racial hatred.’

The investigation is being widely condemned by UK journalist organisations, politicians and commentators.

CIoJ President Professor Tim Crook said: “The credibility of policing in a democratic society is determined by a respect for the boundaries of free speech.

“It is vital that the police recognise how important it is to observe the public interest principle if they think that freedom of expression by journalists could have criminal intent.”

He added: “If and when they get this wrong, the damage caused to liberty and freedom of expression is incalculable.

“We believe that no journalist should be held liable in criminal and civil law for fairly and accurately reporting and publishing matters of political controversy which are also in the public interest.”

The Institute is very seriously concerned that the Metropolitan Police appear to have decided that a journalist should be held responsible for something his interviewee said in the course of an interview.

Institute President Tim Crook observed: “This is a potential affront to the principle of free speech, and will constitute a chilling effect and severe restriction on journalists’ ability to do their jobs.

“Journalists should not be held responsible for any alleged offensiveness expressed by the people they report on and interview.”

Ends