News blackout to protect public from Moat

POLICE were so concerned about gunman Raoul Moat’s state of mind and the potential danger to the public that they demanded a news blackout about his private life.

Northumbria Police warned on Thursday that Moat’s threats, which were previously aimed at the police, had widened and the public might now be in danger.

Reporters were told the gunman threatened to kill a member of the public for every piece of inaccurate information published about him.

The threat was made during a four-hour message on a voice recorder found in the tent which Moat had been using in a secluded area of land at Wagtail Farm, on the outskirts of Rothbury.

Journalists were thought to be among the potential targets.

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Concerned that reports could anger Moat and trigger further violence, Northumbria Police requested a news blackout relating to his private life.

During a press briefing, officers said they had taken advice from psychologists who believed Moat’s “rules have changed’’ and any reporting of his private life could endanger the public.

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The written request from Temporary Chief Constable Sue Sim for a voluntary news blackout said: “Any publicity regarding Mr Moat’s private life, including information from family, friends and associates, could increase that threat.

“We have no alternative but to request that a news blackout be implemented under the voluntary agreement between the Association of Chief Police Officers and the media.’’

Police also asked for stories already published about Moat’s personal life to be removed from news websites.

Comments made by Moat’s mother Josephine Healey, who had little contact with Moat during the past 18 years, that her son “would be better off dead’’ are thought to have been among the published remarks which had upset him.

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