Panorama threats demands response from media owners on broadcasting rights

  • 07 Feb 2021

The NUJ has strongly condemned threats to a BBC Panorama team in Northern Ireland arising from their investigative journalism.

The threat to a BBC journalist arising from his work in revealing close links between a criminal gang and elite boxing raises fundamental questions about the morality of media organisations negotiating with some television rights holders and agents for elite boxers.

Séamus Dooley, assistant general secretary, called on broadcasters, advertisers and sponsors to examine their relationship with the boxing industry and to withdraw from negotiations on rights if direct or indirect links with criminality were proven.

The BBC Panorama team has been threatened by criminal elements following its investigation into Daniel Kinahan, which was broadcast last week. He and his family are now in hiding.

Séamus Dooley is in touch with the journalist and told RTÉ Radio 1's This Week programme that the journalist is "safe and sound and grateful for the many messages of solidarity".

On Friday, the PSNI warned the BBC of an unspecified threat from criminal elements in Northern Ireland following the programme. The programme detailed Daniel Kinahan's associations with Irish and European gangland crime and his influence within professional boxing business.

Dubliner Kinahan, who now lives in the United Arab Emirates and has no convictions, was identified by an Irish High Court judge in 2018 as controlling a vast international network of drugs and arms smuggling. The Special Criminal Court in the Republic of Ireland has accepted Garda evidence about the Kinahan crime group being involved in execution-style murders in the context of feuding.

In a statement on Friday night, Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary, and Séamus Dooley said:

"We strongly condemn the threats against the Panorama team. Panorama is a byword for stellar investigative journalism with a proud record of courage and commitment. We know that NUJ members will stand in solidarity with the unit and especially with those under threat.
"This is a difficult time for the team and their family and we assure them of our full support. Threats against journalists, from whatever source are completely unacceptable and those responsible for the threats cannot be tolerated and will not succeed."

Jo Carr, BBC's head of current affairs, said the broadcaster would not be deterred from its work by threats from criminals.

"The BBC places the utmost priority on the safety of our teams, whose journalism plays a vital role in a free society. It is despicable and intolerable if thugs think they can muzzle a free press
through intimidation."

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