The readers' editor on ... The Observer under attack on Iran
Sunday June 17, 2007
Serious allegations have been hurled at The Observer since a story appeared on the front page last week headlined 'MI6 probes
Last week's story alleged that a British company had been caught in an apparent attempt to sell black-market weapons-grade uranium to
The story reported that a British company allegedly involved in the illicit uranium sale had been closed down and a man charged. It added that investigators believed a wider plot had been uncovered, offering the first proof that al-Qaeda supporters had been actively engaged in developing an atomic capability.
The Campaign against Sanctions and Military Intervention in
That is a serious charge, so I spoke to the reporter who wrote the piece. He explained that he first came across the story in May last year, when disturbing evidence was offered to Parliament's Quadripartite Committee, which monitors arms exports. Investigations were at a crucial stage and running the story then, he said, could have wrecked the case.
'We had the name of the company and the name of an individual being investigated [both of which have been divulged to me], but we could not publish those without prejudicing the investigation.
'Despite this being manifestly in the public interest, we held off for a year until we knew last week that the man in question had been charged. That, of course, brings its own problems because so much then becomes sub judice, but we felt this was the responsible way to report this.'
Some protesters saw the article as an example of an officially 'planted' story, but our reporter vehemently denies this. 'I spent 12 months carefully monitoring the progress of the investigation with many sources,' he said.
'European intelligence assessments have established that Russian uranium is finding its way to
So, even when newspapers have well-sourced information at their fingertips there are legal constraints to what they can report, and consequently- as in this case - they can be unfairly vilified.
۱۳۸٦/۳/٢٧ - سيد کريم