People considering talking to the media about a sensitive issue should first seek out a lawyer, according to latest government advice. It appears in guidance published last week by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport for handling media attention after a major incident.
Recent terror attacks and disasters such as the Grenfell Tower fire have naturally attracted considerable media attention, thrusting members of the public into the spotlight often without any idea how to handle the attention.
The guidance says that communicating with the media in a controlled way can be a positive expeirence and may reduce the number of enquiries people have to field. But the advice cautions that providing information may also lead to more coverage and could affect any investigations that might be ongoing.
It adds: ’You should remember that you do not have to answer any questions, but the media could use any information that you give them – even if you tell them something in confidence or off the record. Alternatively, you could also ask a friend, family member or employer to speak to the press on your behalf. If you want to speak on a sensitive matter you might wish to consider seeking the advice of a lawyer.’
Readers are made aware that the media might use information in the public domain such as the electoral roll and social media feeds.
Anyone concerned about intrusions into their personal life are advised to have a trusted person look after their phone and filter calls for them, as well as to tell friends, family and colleagues not to speak with the press.
The guidance adds: ‘Dealing with the media can sometimes be distressing and daunting. It is your decision whether or not to speak to journalists. While it may not feel like it, you are in control of this. Remember if you do not want to, you do not have to.’