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Last Updated: Saturday, 28 April 2007, 10:04 GMT 11:04 UK
Photo row 'distorted' says chief
Richard Brunstrom, North Wales Police chief constable
Mr Brunstrom said the images were shown in confidence
A chief constable has accused some media of "distorting" a meeting where pictures of a decapitated biker were shown.

Richard Brunstrom said images of Mark Gibney, 40, from Merseyside, who died in 2003, were shown in confidence to journalists and road safety experts at a briefing by North Wales Police.

Permission to use the pictures had not been sought from the dead man's family.

Mr Brunstrom has been criticised by MPs, and his former deputy.

Writing in his weblog, the head of North Wales Police said those attending the anti-speeding briefing on Thursday had been warned in writing they would be "briefly exposed to harrowing images".

The invitations to the media had said the images "were not, are not and will not be released into the public domain - a point emphasised verbally during the meeting," he wrote.

"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 "fundamental 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 accused a "small section" of the media of distorting the meeting "for their own purposes".

He said it was they who had "avoidably and unnecessarily added to the grief of relatives."

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

North Wales Police admitted they did not seek permission to use the pictures from the man's family, but refused to comment further.

Bob Wareing, 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.

"Completely unethical"

"The idea that a chief constable can display images of a dead person without first consulting the family is completely unethical," he told BBC Radio Five Live.

The motorcyclist was not named during Mr Brunstrom's 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.

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

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 go ahead and use them in a public forum without the consent of Mr Gibney's family, was cruel and disrespectful as it has re-opened the family grief, in horrific detail."

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

He added it showed "no respect whatsover for the dead, nor for the grieving families".

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


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