ITV News, Sun Defend Airing Footage Of Woolwich Suspect

05/24/2013 09:58 am ET | Updated May 24, 2013
ITV

British media outlets are defending themselves against heated criticism for showing footage of the bloodied suspect of the brutal killing in Woolwich on Wednesday.

After a soldier was hacked to death on a London street, ITV News — and then later, the Sun — released footage of one of the suspects with bloodied hands and a machete immediately after the attack. BBC also showed both videos. The Press Gazette said Friday that television networks have "received hundreds of complaints" over the footage, which showed the body of the dead soldier in the background.

A spokesperson for ITV News defended the decision in a statement, saying that it was "editorially justified" and pointing out that the video was preceded by warnings about graphic images. “We carefully considered showing this footage ahead of broadcast and made the decision to do so on a public interest basis as the material is integral to understanding the horrific incident that took place yesterday," the spokesperson said.

Sun managing editor Richard Caseby also told Press Gazette that after "close discussions," his publication concluded that it was in "the public interest" to release the footage. Meanwhile Sky News executive editor John McAndrew said his network decided against airing the video because it would be "unnecessarily distressing.”

The Guardian reported Friday that ITV edited the footage to remove a clip of the suspect saying, "The only reason we have killed this man today is because Muslims are dying daily by British soldiers." That clip was shown in the footage later aired by the Sun.

The newspaper added that broadcasters have received about 800 complaints from viewers since Wednesday.

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