Bedfordshire Police are investigating after death threats were made to the Bedford Independent, after we reported on a court case in which five people were found guilty of murder.
Last month (15 April) we reported on five men being found guilty of murdering Przemyslaw Golimowski, a drug dealer who was fatally stabbed and beaten with a golf club in his home in front of his girlfriend.
The Bedford Independent had been following the story, initially via our social media pages, since the murder in September 2018.
With the court case nearing its end we reported on the guilty verdict of all five defendants and the judge’s summary of the case in preparation for sentencing the following day.
That night we received anonymous comments on our Facebook page directed at us and other readers, with threats of violence and racist remarks.
It is our policy to remove comments like this, which we did. However, due to persistent reposting of similar content we were then forced to also block the profile from our page.
The same person, who it is believed is connected to one of the defendants, then found the telephone number for our commercial director and left two graphic answerphone messages.
One described how the caller would “like to take a knife to your throat and kill you”. The other was a barrage of abuse calling the article “fake news” and calling the recipient of the message a “dirty f***ing ‘ho’”.
Managing Editor for the Bedford Independent, Paul Hutchinson, said: “This kind of behaviour is not acceptable.
“While these were only threats, journalists the world over are facing violence and murder from those who wish to silence the reporting of factual news. These threats often appear to be encouraged by world leaders who do not like scrutiny directed towards them.
“It’s also my belief that the reduction in court reporting and local news coverage prior to the arrival of the Bedford Independent has led to this reaction.
“People are not used to seeing court reports in this way. When they then involve someone they’re connected to, they react in a manner that is most likely uncharacteristic but equally despicable.
“The fact these comments were also directed at someone outside of our editorial team shows how important it is for all staff at all news desks to have suitable protection and for threats like this to be dealt with severely.
“We will not hesitate to work with the police to ensure our staff are safe and that people know they cannot make threats like this.”
Bedfordshire Police have worked with Bedford Independent staff to ascertain the identity of the caller and take appropriate action. “Bedfordshire Police have been brilliant and have taken this issue very seriously” added Paul.
“They quickly identified the caller and discussed options for action with us. With their support Julia decided what she wanted to happen, and they have respected that decision. She has also been offered further victim support.”