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Anorak | Reporting Shannon Matthews: The Guardian’s Masterclass

Reporting Shannon Matthews: The Guardian’s Masterclass

by | 3rd, April 2008

THE latest twist in the tale of alleged kidnap victim nine-year-old Yorkshire schoolgirl Shannon Matthews’s caused some media headaches. The arrest and subsequent charging of the child’s “stepfather” presented an interesting set of dilemmas for the printed and broadcast media.

First prize for correct legal niceties and coverage has to go to today’s Guardian which sums up the position in a masterly piece of reporting.

It is worth repeating. It is a brilliant summary of all which may be safely said:

The stepfather of Shannon Matthews, the nine-year-old schoolgirl who disappeared for 24 days, was last night charged with 10 counts of possessing child pornography.

Craig Meehan, 22, was arrested yesterday morning at the house in Dewsbury Moor, West Yorkshire, which he shares with Shannon’s mother, Karen Matthews, 32, and three of her seven children.

The supermarket fishmonger was driven away in an unmarked car and detectives later took boxes and bags from the redbrick semi and renewed a police guard which was lifted a week ago.

A West Yorkshire police spokesman said last night: “A 22-year-old man has been charged with 10 specimen offences of possession of indecent images of children.

“In relation to the welfare of the family’s children, it is being dealt with by social services. Police policy is we are not commenting on the welfare of the children.”

Karen Matthews was in the house as Meehan was taken in for questioning but later left with her children on a half-term day trip with other local families.

Shannon has not returned home since police discovered her in the drawer of a bed at a flat a mile from her home. The youngster has been in the care of social services since she was discovered at the flat in Batley Carr, on March 14.

Michael Donovan, a 39-year-old computer programmer from Dewsbury who is one of Meehan’s uncles, has been charged with abducting Shannon and holding her against her will. He faces trial at Leeds crown court on November 11.

Shannon is still being questioned by police and is being looked after by Kirklees council social services. No date has been set for her return to Dewsbury Moor, where residents had planned a party.

See? Not one word of speculation. Facts and nothing but the facts.

The Guardian story is by-lined Martin Wainwright and Sarah Knapton.

That shows the importance being shown to the correct way of doing things. Martin is the Guardian’s Northern Editor, based in Leeds, and Sarah is a freelance journalist on the Guardian.

She also works as a senior court reporter for Central News based at the Old Bailey and moved to London in 2005 from the North East where she was Chief District Reporter of the Newcastle Evening Chronicle. It is difficult to imagine two safer pairs of hands.

Plus! Vetting and approval by the Guardian sub-editors’ desk…one of the best in the business.

By – AGW 



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