THE bishop leading the panel into the deaths said The News acted as ‘channel and champion’ for families.
Gosport Independent Panel’s Bishop James Jones, who repeatedly praised the families’ tenacity, said local media had spoken up for them when no-one else did. The News’ then reporter Jonathan Carter wrote the first report on the scandal, writing about the death of Gladys Richards.
The front page investigation was published on April 3, 2001, and was headlined Probe Into Suspicious Death at Hospital – police investigation into alleged unlawful killing of patient, 91.
Speaking to The News yesterday, Rt Rev Jones said: ‘Your advocacy of the families is a great example of what local media means, and I’ve been a great supporter of local media.
‘Local newspapers and TV stations and radio are absolutely vital for precisely this reason because no-one in national media and national TV was (reporting on it).
‘The paper acted as their channel and champion and that’s very commendable.’
The Rt Rev Jones added that ‘for 20 years they’ve not been believed and that’s been very hard for them to grieve and not be believed’.
The panel’s report said: ‘The documents show the prominent part played by The News in pursuing concerns about Gosport War Memorial Hospital and the related police investigations, as well as the accuracy of its early reporting.’
The 370-page report added that wider media coverage ‘played a significant part in encouraging staff who had worked on the wards to take action’.