C4 journalists faced contempt threat over sources for two years

Alex Thomson, Channel 4 News chief correspondent, and Lena Ferguson, head of BBC political programmes in Northern Ireland, also spent years with the threat of contempt proceedings and a possible jail sentence hanging over them.

The pair had worked on a series of Channel Four News reports for the 25th anniversary of Bloody Sunday where they interviewed five of the soldiers present.

They too defended their sources’ identities to the tribunal, and at a hearing in May 2002, were told they could be prosecuted for contempt.

The two journalists had to wait until February of this year to hear that Lord Saville’s inquiry was no longer going to pursue them because it was “unlikely to produce new information of any real value and, furthermore, would cause substantial delay in completing the inquiry”.

This somewhat grudging release from anxiety was greeted with magnanimity by Thomson who said he had a lot of sympathy for Lord Saville “I don’t think he had any choice but to do what he did,” he said, but added he felt the outcome was a “tacit recognition that the press has a job to do”.

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