“Independent” panel appointed by government

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Blog:Reporting in the UK’s Guardian newspaper on 29 November on the interim conclusions of a body looking into the riots in England this August, reporter Caroline Davies described the committee as an “independent panel – set up by the government”. Irish bull?

Later in the same issue of the paper, a report by Chris Arnot points out that the chair of the panel – the Riots, Communities and Victims Panel – is the former chief executive of a government department, Jobcentre Plus.

Comment by Antigone1984: For a reporter to describe a government-appointed committee as “independent” is to abdicate their responsibility as a journalist to write as objectively as possible.

When a government appoints a judge or a panel to investigate something, that government will act as follows. It will first determine what conclusions it wants the judge or panel to come to. It will then set about finding a judge or panel that it feels, after interview and on the basis of the past form of the person or persons involved, are likely to come up with those conclusions.  This is an invariable rule in the establishment of investigatory bodies set up by governments.

Naturally, governments themselves are most anxious that the public should be led to believe that the carefully selected panels or judges are completely independent. It is the role of a journalist to ensure that the wool is not pulled over people’s eyes. They must ensure that the public is not set up as well as the committee.

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