The National Union of Journalists has called for media companies to review all security procedures for staff following the coroner ruling over the death of BBC producer Kate Peyton.
Peyton was shot dead whilst on assignment in Mogadishu, Somalia in February 2005, and yesterday coroner Peter Dean recorded a verdict of unlawful killing in the inquest and said broadcasters had lessons to learn from her death.
Dead found that Peyton took the assignment only because she was afraid of losing her job, and said managers had to recognise that staff had an overriding right to turn down dangerous jobs, regardless of any fears they might have for their future employment.
The NUJ said that Peynton’s death highlighted the ‘massive pressures under which freelance and casual journalists have to work’and warned media companies that they must recognise the impact of poor job security on freelance workers and do what they can to ensure that a similar tragedy does not occu.
NUJ General Secretary Jeremy Dear said: “The coroner’s verdict highlights the unacceptable pressures placed on Kate Peyton – but it is symptomatic of the kind of pressures many freelances, casuals and those who lack proper job security face. They feel they have to go to any lengths to prove their worth.
“Some risks are unacceptable and managements need to review the security procedures in place for all staff and freelances in light of today’s decision.”
Coroner Dean recorded a verdict of unlawful killing yesterday, following a three-day inquest in Ipswich, but said his observations did not imply that the BBC was liable.
Although Dean praised the BBC’s risk assessment procedures as “good” and “careful” he said be hoped that evidence aired at the inquest would help prevent future tragedies.