UK: BBC Journalist threatened for working on a documentary about Ireland’s mob leader

A BBC journalist in Northern Ireland received threats for working on a documentary about alleged connections between Irish mob’s leader, Daniel Kinahan, and elite boxing. The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its British affiliate, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) condemn this attempt to muzzle the press and investigative journalism.

A BBC sign is displayed outside the BBC headquarters in Portland Place, London. Credit: BEN STANSALL / AFP

The journalist, whose name hasn’t been revealed, worked for ‘Panorama’, the oldest documentary TV-show, which is broadcasted by the BBC since 1953. He was working with the program’s team on investigating the role played by Kinahan in the boxing industry for an episode that aired on 1 February. Four days later, the police warned him about an unspecified threat against him.

In 2018, Kinahan was identified by Irish justice as the head of an international network of drugs and arms smuggling. There is also evidence accepted by the Special Criminal Court in the Republic of Ireland that links his crime group with execution-style murders in the context of feuding. Currently, the mob’s leader lives in the United Arab Emirates.

After the threats against him, the journalist and his family are now in hiding, but remaining in constant touch with Irish secretary of the NUJ, Séamus Dooley, who commented in an interview that the journalist is "safe and sound and grateful for the many messages of solidarity."

Jo Carr, BBC head of current affairs, stated that “the BBC places the utmost priority on the safety of our teams, whose journalism plays a vital role in a free society. It is despicable and intolerable if thugs think they can muzzle a free press through intimidation." 

In a statement published on 5 February, NUJ General Secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said: “This is a difficult time for the team and their family and we assure them of our full support. Threats against journalists, from whatever source are completely unacceptable and those responsible for the threats cannot be tolerated and will not succeed."

IFJ General Secretary, Anthony Bellanger, said: “We stand in solidarity with the BBC journalist threatened and with all the documentary crew. We reject all forms of violence and intimidation  against journalists, by whomever".

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 146 countries

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