Page last updated at 19:04 GMT, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

'Lessons for BBC' after killing

Kate Peyton
The inquest heard that Kate Peyton felt under pressure to go to Somalia

An inquest into the death of a BBC producer shot outside a hotel while on an assignment in Somalia has found she was unlawfully killed.

Kate Peyton, 39, of Beyton, Suffolk, was shot in Mogadishu in February 2005.

At the hearing held at Ipswich Crown Court, Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean said journalists should not feel pressured into taking dangerous jobs.

Ms Peyton's family said they hoped the lessons learned from her death would improve safety for all journalists.

Dr Dean, who said he would be writing to the BBC about the matter, said managers had to recognise that staff had an overriding right to turn down dangerous jobs, regardless of any fears they might have for their future employment.

He said his observations did not imply that the BBC was liable for the death of Ms Peyton, who was shot in the back on the streets of the Somalian capital.

'No mistakes'

Dr Dean praised the BBC's risk assessment procedures as "good" and "careful" but said he hoped that evidence heard at the inquest would help to prevent future tragedies.

After the hearing, the Peyton family said in a statement: "We are gratified that after nearly four years, the coroner has been able to offer some advice as to how the BBC might improve its treatment of journalists asked to undertake dangerous assignments."

Director of BBC News Helen Boaden: 'The BBC did not put Kate under any pressure'

In a statement, the BBC said it would take "into account what the coroner has said and safety policy is something which continually develops.

"The coroner was clear that Kate knew she had the right to turn down assignments."

Director of BBC News Helen Boaden told the BBC News Channel: "I think the coroner was quite clear that there weren't mistakes made but we can learn from it (Kate's death) and those are different things.

"We try and learn from every single one of these tragedies and sadly Kate's isn't the only one."

Ms Peyton, who was based in Johannesburg, South Africa, had travelled to the war-ravaged country with freelance reporter Peter Greste because the BBC felt that the story of Somalia's development was "important".

'Some risks unacceptable'

BBC safety advisers had classed Somalia as a "category one hostile environment" and accepted the need for journalists to travel with local armed soldiers.

The inquest heard that minders were not warned Ms Peyton and other journalists were leaving the hotel.

Kate Peyton's sister Rebecca: "We are relieved to be through the whole process"

Ms Peyton's sister, Rebecca, 36, told the hearing that her sister had felt under pressure to take the assignment because she wanted to win a new work contract.

Jeremy Dear, General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists said: "It is symptomatic of the kind of pressures many freelances, casuals and those who lack proper job security face.

"They feel they have to go to any lengths to prove their worth.

"Some risks are unacceptable and managements need to review the security procedures in place for all staff and freelances in light of today's decision."

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