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Prosecution of undercover journalist dropped

27 August 2009

An NUJ member who was arrested after she went undercover to investigate the treatment of elderly people will not face prosecution.

The Procurator Fiscal in Scotland has decided not to proceed against BBC researcher Arifa Farooq for applying for jobs using her sister's name, as part of an expose of the abuse of older people.

The NUJ had been lobbying on Arifa's behalf. The Panarama documentary she helped to make revealed malpractice in companies caring for older people at home.

The Local Government Committee at the Scottish Parliament has been investigating the issues highlighted in the programme.

Pete Murray, NUJ vice-president and deputy father of the BBC Scotland chapel, said:

"It is an enormous relief for Arifa and her friends and family that the procurator has decided not to take this case forward.
"Arifa deserved praise for what she did not persecution.
"The Panorama programme was a clasic example of investigative journalism at its best.
"It is important that journalists are able to go undercover when a story they are investigating is serious enough to warrant it."

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said:

"This is a victory for media freedom. Congratulations to Arifa and her NUJ colleagues in Scotland who have been lobbying hard to stop this prosecution.
"The union will continue to stand up for journalists who face persecution for doing their jobs well and who uphold the values of public interest journalism."

Tags: , broadcasting, bbc, trials, investigative journalism, undercover, panorama, parliament scotland, bbc scotland