British Police Urge Media Restraint in Coverage of Murders

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Britain’s attorney general warned news media Thursday to exercise restraint in their coverage of the killings of five prostitutes in eastern England. Police, meanwhile, were questioning two suspects as deadlines approached for charging the men.

Investigators have until Friday evening to charge or release their first suspect, identified in news reports as Tom Stephens, 37. He was arrested Monday at his home in Trimley St. Martin, eight miles southeast of the town of Ipswich, where all the victims worked.

Suffolk police also were interrogating a 48-year-old man, identified in news reports as Steve Wright. He was arrested Tuesday in Ipswich, and can be detained until Saturday without charge.

Magistrates granted permission for extended questioning on Wednesday.

The case is generating massive media coverage in a country known for tabloid-fueled frenzies. Some newspapers have printed photographs of the two men identified as suspects, including a photo of one with his hands around the neck of a former wife. As the number of slayings rose, The News of the World, a tabloid, offered a $493,000 reward for information leading to the killer’s arrest.

Suffolk police have expressed concern, said Goldsmith, who added that he was prepared to review coverage “if and when appropriate.”

Goldsmith added it was for newspapers and broadcasters to take legal advice and make their own decisions.

British law bans the media from publishing or broadcasting, including on the Internet, any comments or information that might seriously prejudice active legal proceedings, in particular criminal proceedings heard before juries.

All five victims had been working as prostitutes, and their naked bodies were found in rural areas around Ipswich over a period of about 10 days beginning Dec. 2.

Three of the bodies were found near the main road and the rail line between Ipswich and Trimley; the two others were discovered near the same road in areas south and southwest of Ipswich.

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