I’m finding myself increasingly troubled about the way in which the investigation of the multiple murders in Ipswich is progressing. Not in terms of what the police are doing, but the way in which the media is leading its own investigation in parallel, and in public. Yesterday a man was arrested. He has been questioned four times already, but he had been interviewed by a couple of journalists over the weekend, and those interviews were published on Sunday and Monday. Now it isn’t clear how they got to him, whether they got a tip from a friendly copper, or if they had tracked him down, or whatever. It is the way in which those interviews are seemingly being used to convict him before any further evidence appears.
The police don’t interview suspects in depth in the middle of the street, with a crowd of people around them. They do it in private, two of them, and usually a solicitor acting for the suspect. They do so in order to arrive at a more reasoned theory as to the guilt or otherwise of a person. They don’t have lots of people shouting “ooohhhhh, he looks very dodgy”.
The gentleman in question is still being questioned. A second man has just been arrested. Should the first man stand trial though, having had his name and image splashed front page all over, his interview played on news tv constantly, and his myspace account passed around, it could potentially be easy to call into question if he could receive a fair trial. And that would only be the fault of the media. Regardless of his actual guilt either way, the media could end up judging, convicting, and releasing him themselves.