A BBC Scotland journalist – who had worked undercover on a Panorama investigation on domicilliary care provision in South Lanarkshire – has been arrested.
According to the BBC, it is believed the arrest of Arifa Farooq is related to an alleged failure to provide accurate personal details to the employer. The journalist, who works with the BBC Scotland investigations unit, was arrested after voluntarily attending an interview at Maryhill police station in Glasgow. She is said to have spent at hour in a police cell on Wednesday, before being released.
The Panorma programme was broadcast in April. It prompted the Scottish Parliament's Local Government committee to announce it was launching an investigation into how homecare contracts are awarded (here).
A report on the BBC's website quotes a Strathclyde Police spokesman, saying: “We can confirm that a woman was arrested yesterday in connection with a contravention of Section 123 of the Police Act 1997. She was not detained and a report will be sent to the procurator fiscal.”
Said Atholl Duncan, BBC Scotland's head of news and current affairs: “This was an extremely important piece of journalism which highlighted widespread mistreatment of elderly people.
“We are very concerned about the action taken against Arifa and its consequences for the freedom of investigative journalism.
“We now await consideration of the matter by the fiscal.”
Farooq was initially interviewed by Maryhill CID at BBC Scotland headquarters in Pacific Quay last week before her arrest.
Says NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear: “We are strongly urging the authorities to use their common sense and rule out prosecution. The work undertaken by Arifa Farooq was clearly in the public interest and it is now in the public interest for the case to be dropped.
“The only people who would benefit from legal action in these circumstances are those who want to stop the kind of vital journalism that has been undertaken by Arifa.
“The BBC has a proud history of supporting investigative reporters and I am sure they will be standing firmly behind their journalist. The NUJ also pledges its support to a member who will be going through an appalling experience simply because she dared to expose wrongdoing.”
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