Writing on the BBC Editors’ Blog, world news editor Jon Williams defends the broadcaster’s decision to keep quiet about the release of Paul and Rachel Chandler while other news organisations broke the story around it. Concerned that details of the release being published could jeopardise the couple’s chances of making it to safety, the family had secured a super-injunction prohibiting coverage until they were confirmed to be back in safe hands, but not all news organisations obeyed it.
While we’re not in the business of censoring the news, no story is worth a life – we accepted the argument of the family, their lawyers and the judge that to do otherwise would jeopardise the safety of Paul and Rachel Chandler.
Some other news organisations did not – which is why, for some hours, during the Chandlers’ dangerous journey through Somalia to the safety of Kenya, the BBC stayed silent while pictures of the couple could be seen elsewhere.
While it wasn’t a comfortable position for us, or our audience, to be in, it was the law and a restriction put in place to try to ensure the safety of the Chandlers. Had we done otherwise, we would have been in contempt of court.