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Last Updated: Friday, 1 August, 2003, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
No live TV, Kelly family urge
Dr Kelly's wife Janice Kelly (rt) with an unnamed woman
Dr Kelly's death has caused the family 'distress enough'
The family of government weapons expert David Kelly has called on the judge investigating events surrounding his death not to allow his inquiry to be televised.

They argue that the death of the 59-year-old had "caused them distress enough" and would turn their private loss into "the nation's entertainment".

The family says that having witnessed the strain Dr Kelly suffered by giving evidence to the House of Commons foreign affairs select committee, they did not want any witness to be subjected to a "comparable experience".

The family members are concerned that televising the proceedings will turn their private loss into the nation's entertainment
Jeremy Gompertz QC
Representing Kelly family

Jeremy Gompertz, QC, made the appeal on the family's behalf, following an application by ITN and Sky News for the evidence of key witnesses, namely the prime minister, other politicians and the media, to be televised.

Geoffrey Robertson, QC, representing the broadcasters, including Channel 4 News, Channel 5 News and IRN, argued that 65% of people receive news from the television.

Public figures only

TV was "often a truer medium" capable of portraying a witness's tone of voice, body language and demeanour in a way newspapers could not, he said.

Unlike the printed press, whose accounts were open to distortion, television companies were bound by strict statutory duties governing accuracy and due impartiality.

Jeremy Gompertz QC, representing the Kelly family
Kelly family want witnesses treated with 'dignity'
Mr Robertson said the broadcasters were not seeking to televise evidence from the Kelly family or from witnesses related to the finding of the body.

They would be interested in filming "the Cabinet minister, the politician and those familiar with the media", including broadcast journalists.

Mr Robertson said it was difficult to imagine the prime minister, his media chief Alastair Campbell or Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon becoming distressed by giving televised evidence.

Ordeal

The counsel warned that if TV cameras were not able to broadcast the proceedings, they would be forced to rely on the account from "a somewhat breathless young reporter" outside the courtroom and backed up by an artist's impression of the scene inside.

There is a strong public interest justification in allowing the proceedings to be televised so that the public can see key evidence sessions for themselves in this important inquiry
Joint ITN and Sky statement

But Mr Gompertz opposed the application, stressing: "The family feels that the presence of television cameras at the inquiry would only serve to intensify the ordeal which the family faces and the pressure upon them.

"The death of Dr Kelly has caused them distress enough.

"The surrounding issues, with implications of national proportions and the intense media interest have turned a private tragedy into what the family feels is a public maelstrom to which the family is wholly unaccustomed.

"Having witnessed the added strain suffered by Dr Kelly ... to the foreign affairs select committee, the family would not wish that any witnesses at this inquiry should be subjected to a comparable experience.

"The family wish to see everyone involved in the inquiry treated in a dignified manner.

"The family members are concerned that televising the proceedings will turn their private loss into the nation's entertainment."

Delayed decision

Mr Gompertz said the family was also concerned that televising the proceedings would focus attention more on a witness's performance than on the content of what they had to say.

The BBC said it did not oppose the broadcasters' move but said it was a decision for the inquiry.

Lord Hutton, a former Lord Chief Justice in Northern Ireland, who is familiar with politically sensitive issues, delayed a decision on whether to allow the application until the inquiry reconvenes on 11 August. He then adjourned the first session.

Later, in a joint statement ITN and Sky News said: "Broadcasters await Lord Hutton's decision and hope that he will recognise that there is a strong public interest justification in allowing the proceedings to be televised so that the public can see key evidence sessions for themselves in this important inquiry.

"We have in particular applied for permission for evidence from those witnesses in the public eye - such as politicians and broadcasters - to be televised."




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Andy Tighe
"[Lord Hutton] cannot force anyone to appear before him"



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