A police chief has praised local press reporting of an investigation into a baby’s death after losing “a lot of trust” over national coverage of the case.
Detective Chief Inspector Lewis Hughes, of Greater Manchester Police’s major incident team, has applauded “balanced” and “sensitive” reports by the local media of the force’s investigation into the mystery.
The body of the unidentified newborn girl, who has been named ‘Pearl’ by detectives, was found on the morning of Wednesday 4 April in woodland in Heywood, Rochdale.
According to a piece by PR Week, DCI Hughes and GMP press officer Vickie Custy decided that local media would be the most viable means of gaining leads and aimed to discourage “sensationalistic and speculative reporting”.
Crediting local media for their reporting of a public appeal for the mother of the baby to come forward, DCI Hughes said: “They understood the need to be sensitive to support the work we were doing.”
In contrast, DCI Hughes criticised a Sunday Times story headlined ‘Mystery death of “Baby Pearl” evokes Victorian age’.
The story’s introduction said the “ghosts of Britain’s Victorian past” had returned to “haunt detectives”, adding the case had “thrust police back to a grim era of desperate women and unwanted babies”.
DCI Hughes, pictured, told PR Week: “I lost a lot of trust in the journalist and was concerned about the impact on the investigation.
“We couldn’t let this report create a barrier so we worked with the local media, which provided a balanced report. They understood the need to be sensitive to support the work we were doing.”
He added: “The challenge has been getting the appeals out with the right messages and to avoid sensational reporting. It is a very emotional case and our local media relationships have really helped.”