Cllr Brian Silvester, a Conserative councillor in Cheshire East, is calling on the BBC to hand over unbroadcast footage of the recent riots to the Police if it can be used to identify the culprits responsible for the looting and destruction and lead to their prosecution. On the Media Show on Radio 4 the BBC's Head of News Gathering, Fran Unsworth (about 17.30 minutes in), that if the Police wanted the footage the Police would have to apply for a court order to get it.
"No. We don't do that without a court order. It is a matter of principle for us."
She added that she didn't want to "compromise our standards". She said if the police "come up with a court order we will probably hand them over."
How are the police to know what unbroadcast footage exists and therefore apply to the court for? Why do the BBC feel entitled to impose this cost and delay? Say what your like about Rupert Murdoch but at least Sky News are clear whose side they are on.
Cllr Silvester says:
"I find it totally unbelievable that the BBC is taking this attitude. If they have footage of looters taking goods from the shops they have wrecked or footage of the young thugs setting fire to or damaging shops, flats and cars then surely they should hand it over immediately? Why should they expect the Police to use their valuable time to get a court order and pay the cost of obtaining a court order?
"The BBC should decide if they are on the side of the law abiding British public, who pay the licence fee to maintain the BBC or is the BBC on the side of the looters and those who seem hell bent on destroying their own communities and local businesses.?
"Local authorities across the country freely hand over CCTV footage to the Police so criminals can be identified. The BBC should follow the lead of local Councils and not obstruct the identification of mindless thugs who loot, destroy and create havoc."