Glasgow journalist arrested in relation to undercover work
6 August 2009
A Glasgow-based journalist is facing the possibility of criminal prosecution in relation to activities whilst carrying out undercover investigative journalism for Panorama. The NUJ has called on the prosecuting authorities in Scotland to use common sense and to rule out the prosecution of BBC researcher Arifa Farooq.
The resulting documentary revealed malpractice in companies caring for older people at home.
It has emerged that Arifa Farooq was arrested and questioned yesterday in relation to allegations of making a false disclosure in the course of her investigation.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said:
"We are strongly urging the authorities to use their common sense and rule out prosecution. The work undertaken by Arifa Farooq was clearly in the public interest and it is now in the public interest for the case to be dropped.
"The only people who would benefit from legal action in these circumstances are those who want to stop the kind of vital journalism that has been undertaken by Arifa.
"The BBC has a proud history of supporting investigative reporters and I am sure they will be standing firmly behind their journalist. The NUJ also pledges its support to a member who will be going through an appalling experience simply because she dared to expose wrongdoing."
The Local Government Committee at the Scottish Parliament has been investigating issues around elderly care provision that were raised by the April edition of Panorama, to which Arifra contributed.
Speaking on BBC Scotland's Newsdrive programme, the committee's convenor Duncan McNeil said:
"I'm disappointed and dismayed at this action. We were shocked at the issues highlighted by the programme. Clearly, the programme was in the public interest. It brought about a public inquiry; it made a difference in the short term and I believe will make a difference in the long term to how services are procured, delivered, monitored and regulated in our communities in Scotland. Afira deserves reward, not retribution."