As already mentioned on this blog, at least one editor has said the libel laws made him nervous of printing allegations of broadcaster Jimmy Savile’s abuse of young girls. There are certainly more complex reasons behind the failure to properly report the story in the past, but it is worth looking at the broader ethical questions the case raises. Former trustee and long-time associate of Index on Censorship Mark Stephens has posed one such question on Twitter this morning.
Moral dilemma of the day: would it have been ok to phone hack Jimmy Savile to get evidence and expose his child abuse and grooming? #leveson
— Mark Stephens (@MarksLarks) October 11, 2012
Or, to generalise the question: what kind of issue justifies intrusion and subterfuge on the part of journalists? And what level of intrusion and subterfuge? It’s a problem Lord Justice Leveson’s panel of assessors is bound to be discussing. What do you think?