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Last Updated: Friday, 27 April 2007, 19:14 GMT 20:14 UK
Row over decapitated biker photo
Richard Brunstrom, North Wales Police chief constable
Mr Brunstrom has been 'disrepectful' says one MP
A row has erupted after pictures of a decapitated motorcyclist were shown at an anti-speeding media briefing given by North Wales Police.

Chief Constable Richard Brunstrom showed images of a 40-year-old man, who died in 2003, without seeking the permission of his family on Merseyside.

Local MP Bob Wareing has called for Mr Brunstrom to be reprimanded.

Mr Brunstrom in his weblog said those attending had been warned they would be "briefly exposed to harrowing images".

North Wales Police admitted they did not seek permission but would not comment on the case.

The photographs of 40-year-old Mark Gibney were shown at a private anti-speeding briefing for the media on Thursday.

One image showed Mr Gibney's head in his helmet, his eyes open, on a grass verge.

Mr Wareing, who is Labour MP for the West Derby area of Liverpool, said he was very concerned, and had contacted the Home Secretary John Reid about the matter:

"It's totally deplorable," he told BBC Five Live.

Martyn Jones MP
This is unnacceptable behaviour from a senior public servant
Martyn Jones, Clwyd South MP

"The idea that a chief constable can display images of a dead person without first consulting the family is completely unethical.

"I heard about it only last night actually, and I was horrified. I can't imagine, you know, what went through the chief constable's head."

North Wales Police said they would not be confirming the name of the decapitated motorcyclist or making any comment on the case.

Mr Brunstrom, writing in his weblog on the force website, accused a small section of the media of "distortion".

He wrote: "The meeting was a closed one, to an invited audience of journalists and road safety professionals, all of whom had been warned in advance that they would be briefly exposed to harrowing images, in order that the media could better understand the full context of the Arrive Alive project.

"The invitations made it very clear, in writing, that these images were not, are not and will not be released into the public domain - a point emphasised verbally during the meeting.

"They were included as a minor part of the presentation to counter the continuing tendency in some sections of our society to trivialise road death."

He said compassion was a "fundemental plank" of police plans and those involved cared "deeply" about reducing road deaths "precisely because we are daily called to face scenes such as those shown briefly, and in confidence, to this invited audience".

Mr Brunstrom is no stranger to controversy, particularly over his approach to road safety. In 2004 he admitted he had an obsession with tackling speeding motorists.

The motorcyclist was not named during his presentation but details of his distinctive T-shirt, which bore an anti-police message, were given.

The T-shirt received widespread publicity during his inquest, and effectively identified him to journalists.

His partner Eileen Burke told the Liverpool Echo: "We should have been asked. We are trying to put this behind us. His death should not be dragged up again."

Martyn Jones, MP for Clwyd South, called for Mr Brunstrom to consider his position, adding: "To use these images in this manner, was a contentious decision in itself.

To use them in a public forum without consent of the family was "cruel and disrepectful as it has re-opened the family grief, in horrific detail.

"This is unacceptable behaviour from a senior public servant."

"I believe that the chief constable should seriously consider his position over the weekend."

A former North Wales deputy chief constable, Bill Brereton, said the decision was "ill advised and ill considered".

"It shows no respect for the dead nor the grieving family"


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