UK Dopers: Can journalists be charged with terrorism offences?

I could pit this but I’ll restrain myself to a :rolleyes:

Story here. And for those who don’t wish to click, it’s about a journalist who broke into a London railway depot and attempted to plant a ‘fake bomb’ on a train.

My question is: Given that the person in question intended to plant a device and cause terror and chaos can he be charged under terrorism laws? Clearly he didn’t have a political end in mind and just wanted to make money but I’m not sure if that’s a workable distinction. I’ll readly admit that I’d really like to see this guy sent down for his behaviour but I’m also curious as to what he can be charged with and potentially how big a sentence he could get.

I expect that if they had planted a ‘bomb’, their next move would be to alert the authorities about lax security procedures and then publish the story.
Journalists are not interested in having the public discover such a device, causing panic.
They wanted to get a news scoop and test the security.
Here’s a couple of previous examples:

‘The Department of Transport says it will investigate claims of a security breach at Heathrow airport after an undercover journalist reportedly entered restricted areas and walked unchecked and unnoticed around passenger aircraft due to take off.’

‘Airport security chiefs have been ordered to remain vigilant, after an undercover journalist apparently smuggled a meat cleaver and dagger onto a flight from Heathrow.’

In the UK the police will take any law and stretch it up to and beyond the limits. A law lecturer at my university was telling me about a black friend of his caught DASCWBB (Driving a Smart Car Whilst Being Black). He was pulled over for the umpteenth bullshit time and then held for several days under the Prevention of Terrorism Act for being, essentially, mouthy.

It has also been severely abused to harass legitimate demonstrations.


And I’m certain ‘embarrassing The Powers That Be by exposing their incompetence’ is a terrorist offence that needs discouraging.

Well I don’t know what those replies really had to do with the question.

Since the ‘journalists’ have been released on bail I’m guessing they’ve not been charged with anything other than trespassing. But I’ll ask again in case anybody without a chip on their shoulder happens along - in theory, could they be charged with terrorism charges given that their intent was to plant a device which could be construed as a bomb?

Of course they could be charged with anything as in the US. The real question is would they be convicted (I cant see it but…)

Perhaps you could read my post again. :rolleyes:
When you’ve done that, you could tell me what ‘chip’ you think I demonstrated.

I repeat, it is a well-established practice in England (advisable or not) for journalists to test security, then immediately reveal to the authorities any weaknesses they discover.
Their intention was not to plant a device which could be a bomb and wait for the public to discover it and panic. It was to show it could be done.

Not so much you but the other poster. You still might have answered a bit better though - it’s fairly obvious they wouldn’t risk having anything that could be classified as a real bomb due to a desire to save their skins.

The fact remains that they did break into a railway depot with the express aim of planting a device which would cause fear and alarm. Yes, they would have removed it after taking their photos but I’m curious as to whether a charge of terrorism could stick.

Perhaps more lawyerly types would have more knowledge.

I resent being linked in any way to anyone who posts ludicrous exaggerations like “In the UK the police will take any law and stretch it up to and beyond the limits.” :slight_smile:

I did answer better. You need to read better!

In all these cases the journalists take photos of their ‘bomb’, them remove it and report to the authorities. Since nobody else ever sees the device, what ‘fear and alarm’ are you referring to?

The difference is the same as:

  • shouting ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre and causing panic and probable injury
  • taking a picture of an illegally locked fire door in an empty theatre and publishing it

Here is a more detailed explanation of my position.

  1. The reporters are acting with the full knowledge of their bosses, who will undoubtedly have checked with the newspaper’s lawyers that no ‘terrorist’ offence is being committed.

'The Mirror defended its reporters yesterday.

We felt that it was a legitimate and justified journalistic exercise to repeat the action in the interests of public safety.

"We are happy to see that the security procedures have now improved.’

  1. If the reporters were to be charged, then senior newspaper staff would undoubtedly be charged with conspiracy, since they knew what was going to happen, helped plan it and approved paying for it.

They would also be guilty of several such offenses:

‘Today’s incident is the latest in a series of exposes carried out by the Mirror to test out the security of trains.’

Here is another newspaper (Sunday Times) testing security:

Les Snowdon, the newspaper’s editor, said in a statement that the reporter had entered the palace to test security ahead of a visit by the Prince of Wales later this week and the official opening of the Scottish Parliament by the Queen in two weeks’ time.

  1. The journalists had no explosives, no WMd’s, no links to any terrorist organisation and revealed what they had done to authorities before publishing full details to the public.

I really don’t see what they could be charged with, apart from trespass.

(And my personal opinion is that Bush and Blair lied about terrorism from Iraq and thus are responsible for massive numbers of deaths - mainly civilians. Let’s charge them with something.)