Articles Today from the News of the World:
Tough new rules to be unveiled this week will protect their privacy and dignity – with judges forced to halt intimidating, humiliating or distressing questioning.
The safeguards come in a revamped courtroom code aimed at ending the nightmare ordeal faced by thousands of witnesses and innocent victims of crime.
It follows the shameful treatment of Bob and Sally Dowler by lawyers defending their 13-year-old daughter’s killer Levi Bellfield.
The distraught couple endured cruel questions about their sex life, Bob’s porn collection and letters which showed Milly was unhappy.
Such vicious cross-examinations will be halted under a charter of rights for witnesses drawn up by Victims’ Commissioner Louise Casey.
She wants to tilt the justice system back to give victims at least equal status with the rights of suspects.
She said yesterday: “I see lobby groups and campaign organisations in droves on the offender side. Yet victims struggle to get heard.”
Ms Casey will hand her 60-page report to Justice Secretary Ken Clarke on Wednesday.
Among its other proposals is one that courts should have flexible start and end times to make it easier for family members to give evidence. Another is that the bodies of murder victims should be returned to their families within a month.
The report is expected to be backed by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Judge, who chairs the Criminal Procedure Rule Committee overseeing court practice.'
LOUISE CASEY writes for the News of the World
'MANY of us felt such compassion for the brave family of Milly Dowler and anger at the way they were treated in court.
Sadly for me, although I was shocked and appalled, I wasn’t surprised.
When I started working for the rights of victims I thought I was unshockable. But what I have found over the last year has made my jaw drop.
Like most people I assumed that families who, like the Dowlers, have had their lives ripped apart by criminals, would get all the help they need. And that the criminal justice system would be on their side.
What I discovered is they are often not given the support, care or consideration they deserve. Many are still treated as if they are an “inconvenience”, and this can make their grief worse.
These families deserve not to have to sit next to an offender’s family in court listening to them laughing and joking. They deserve to be told that their rapist is going to be released before they bump into him in the supermarket.
They deserve to bury the body of their child without defence lawyers asking for autopsy after autopsy – in one case I know a 35-day-old baby only got to be buried by her family on what would have been her first birthday.
They deserve to not find out that the murderer of their husband is appealing by reading it in a newspaper. They deserve to be treated with humanity, dignity and most of all a bit of respect.
So when my report comes out about the treatment of families like these, I ask that you be shocked too. And then those in charge might sit up and listen.'
Reaction on Twitter was instantaneous and substantial. Many people are calling for Jeremy Hunt to reconsider his proposal to allow Rupert Murdoch to buy the remaining stock in BSkyB. Here is a small sample of the tweets:
"All you citizen journalists/bloggers - call the NOW newsroom on 0207 782 1001 email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out their views"
my blood runs cold http://bit.ly/luyRqsLadies and gentlemen, form an orderly queue:Hacked Off - campaign for a public inquiry into phone hacking: http://t.co/hnHXZUq via @AddThis
Staggering: Milly Dowler's voicemail was hacked by News of World. Can Brooks & Coulson really claim they knew nothing? http://bit.ly/luyRqs
This Milly Dowler/Notw thing is the very worst. Listening to weeping relatives leaving messages to a dead girl - Jesus Christ.
If you want to make your thoughts heard re: #Murdoch & #hackgate contact http://www.culture.gov.uk/contact_us/default.aspx
Media studies: The Guardian, the BBC and the Telegraph all have the NOTW's alleged hacking of Milly Dowler's mobile as their top story.
Here is a link to the key people in the phone - hacking scandal from the BBC News website and another to a timeline charting the main events.
Whatever unfolds in the next few days and weeks, surely Jeremy Hunt will seriously reconsider his decision to allow Rupert Murdoch's acquisition of BSkyB?
A link to the NUJ's Code of Conduct : here
Members of the National Union of Journalists are expected to abide by the following professional principles:
5. Obtains material by honest, straightforward and open means, with the exception of investigations that are both overwhelmingly in the public interest and which involve evidence that cannot be obtained by straightforward means
6. Does nothing to intrude into anybody’s private life, grief or distress unless justified by overriding consideration of the public interest
Is this justification for deleting messages from the mobile phone of a missing child? Could it be considered in the public interest?
(If you would like links to many of the past articles and information concerning the phone-hacking/blagging scandal, click on the relevant tab above this post and there you'll find everything you could want to know!)