The law is not the big bad wolf, says Channel 4’s Legal Eagle

 

 

Dominic Harrison, Channel 4's legal eagle

Dominic Harrison, Channel 4’s legal eagle

by Leah Waller

Law can both restrict and support journalists, says Channel 4’s Dominic Harrison.

Dominic, a lawyer from Channel 4’s legal and compliance department, today emphasised the impact knowledge of the law has on journalism.

Speaking at Leeds Trinity Journalism Week, he said: “Without knowledge of the law you’re like a surgeon with no knowledge of anatomy, you will hit an organ. “Journalists can be afraid of the law, but all journalists are affected by the law, they need to know where the legal boundaries are.”

However, he was keen to point out that the law isn’t always the big bad wolf it is often viewed as by journalists, and reminded them that it does its bit to help protect journalists too.

He said: “It protects sources, it protects you from the police and the law will provide defences to libel claims. Effective, innovative and legally defensible journalism comes from not being afraid.”

After reciting a list of the law and acts that journalists need to be aware of including the Police and Criminal Evidence act 1984 and defamation.

Dominic went on to discuss the importance of knowing the law in journalism.

He said: “I would hope that you’re able to rely on some of the support the law will give you to do your job. They’ll expect you to do it responsibly and carefully, someday you will have to justify the way you went about getting your information.

“If you are fair, accurate and decent you will not fall foul of the law.”

Dominic also spoke about the significance of collaborating with lawyers as a journalist, he said: “If you work with a good lawyer, you should find that they assist you in making what you write or broadcast clearer. Ask for advice early and often.”

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