Attack on London: Reporters offer services qualified praise

Journalists covering last week's terror attacks have praised the professionalism of the public services in their dissemination of information but reserved some criticism for the police and transport authorities.

'We didn't have any problems getting information out of Scotland Yard,' said The Independent chief reporter Terry Kirby. 'You could tell from the rescue operation that they had been planning it for a long time and it was a well-oiled machine. That included getting the information out.'

But he criticised 'apparently contradictory' statements from the Met Police and the British Transport Police over whether the 21 bodies confirmed dead on the Piccadilly line were the total on the scene or the total recovered.

He said: 'That should not have happened because it is fundamentally important.'

On Transport for London's initial claim the Underground had been affected by a power surge, BBC transport correspondent Tom Symonds said: 'I've done a lot of train crashes, and you expect the information to be confusing.

People lower down the PR food chain will continue putting out a particular line until they are told to do otherwise.' His biggest problem was being unable to contact reliable sources because the phone networks were jammed.

But Sky News executive editor John Ryley said: 'It took 48 hours for the authorities to decide that the bombs had in fact gone off within a minute of each other, as they announced on Saturday lunchtime, not 50 minutes. That makes you curious and sceptical.'

The health services gained widespread praise, however. ITN consumer editor Chris Choi, who was at Russell Square station, said: 'London Ambulance Service read out a statement to describe what was going on, and that they would not be making any further ones, which was fair enough. But how they talked to the media was trivial compared to the job of saving lives.'

Others praised the hospitals for setting up temporary media centres and providing information on casualties as quickly as possible under enormous pressure.

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