Threats won’t stop us covering court, warns editor after reporter told they will be killed

An editor has called in police after a reporter was told to expect to be killed by a reader.

David Summers, editorial director for JPI Media in the Midlands, has written to readers on the Northampton Chronicle and Echo website to warn that he will tolerate his team being abused physically or verbally.

David was prompted to write after a reporter was threatened by a reader who say they would get a shotgun and kill them after disagreeing with a report about a court case published this week.

David Summers

“It was a standard report of a court hearing, factually correct, the type we publish week in, week out. It is a fundamental part of a newspaper’s role and an integral part of justice being seen to be done,” said David.

“But this person disagreed. They complained about the publication of the article and during the course of the conversation told my reporter that they would get a shotgun and kill them.

“It was both shocking and upsetting to the reporter concerned. As their editor, my first thought was for the welfare of the reporter and for the wider team. My second was one of anger and incredulity that someone believed making this threat was okay.

“I am writing this statement to let our readers, and the wider public, see the level this abuse has risen to and to make it clear that I will not tolerate any of my team being threatened or abused in any way, physically, verbally or on social media. This matter has been reported to the police, as will any other instances of abuse of my journalists.

“Threats of physical violence, and in this case the threat of taking someone’s life, will not be accepted, nor will any other form of abuse. It certainly will not stop us covering court cases in the future and will not stop us doing our jobs.”

Details of the incident come in the same week the Government pledged protection and support for journalists when it published the UK’s first national action plan aimed at protecting journalists from abuse and harassment.

Commitments in the new action plan include training for police officers and journalists, while prosecution services across the UK have reaffirmed their commitment to taking a robust approach to crimes against reporters.

Every police force is to be given access to a designated journalist safety liaison officer, and the National Police Chiefs’ Council has appointed a lead officer to take responsibility for crimes against journalists at a national level.

Meanwhile, DCMS and the Home Office are to launch a call for evidence to build a better understanding of threats and abuse against journalists to take a targeted approach in tackling the issue.

David added: “We support this action and, sadly, we have experienced this week the reasons why it is necessary.”

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