Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Deafening Silence on the Fate of Detained British Journalists; Columnist

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Deafening Silence on the Fate of Detained British Journalists; Columnist

Article excerpt

Byline: David Banks

C REMATORIA, courtrooms and cop shops are the only places where journalists of my generation meet these days.

In company with a huddle of white-haired old wrinklies, I was in said crematorium this week waving off one of our number and, in the characteristically unrestrained wake that followed, weighing up the damaging fallout from the Great Hacking Scandal.

Since the News of the World was shut for good (sic) almost two years ago on July 10, 2011, by an abashed and repentant Rupert, we reckon that 52 British journalists have been arrested, usually in dramatic dawn raids on their homes.

Six have been cleared, 10 face charges and 36 more, currently unemployed and unemployable, await word of their fate. Two of the latter have, to my knowledge, attempted suicide.

On a lighter note, a second anniversary reunion of News of the World journalists had to be scrapped because bail terms prevent them talking to one other.

Seriously, this is Banana Republic stuff and I have kept quiet on the subject long enough.

When a dozen journalists were picked up in Iran recently, the high-minded New York Times demanded their release; similar fears for the fate of freedom of expression accompanied the arrests of scribblers in Southern Sudan and Turkey.

But search for details of arrested, charged or detained British journalists in the appropriate campaigning databases and you will find in the space between Ukraine and Uzbekistan no mention of the UK's outstanding cases.

Meanwhile, our three major parties coalesce in small hours conversation with handsome Hugh Grant's Hacked Off organisation - but without representation from the nation's 60,000 journalists and proprietors whom the 'agreed' legislation seeks to control.

Has anyone ever accused The Journal or Chronicle of hacking? Anyone suggested the Northumberland Gazette or Berwick Advertiser might be guilty of bribing policemen? Or that any more than even a fraction of Fleet Street's foulest might have stooped so low as to break the law? …

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