The ABC has re-edited footage of a reporter handling victims’ personal belongings and wreckage at the MH17 crash site.
Europe correspondent Phil Williams was filmed picking up a scarf amongst the wreckage, prompting the ABC to remind their journalists of their responsibilities at crash sites, according to a Fairfax report.
Mr Williams defended himself on the ABC’s PM program last night, saying that the crash site had already been contaminated.
“I am guilty of picking up, touching a scarf on the ground and that’s because there are piles of people’s belongings that have just been collected and dumped on the roadside,” he said.
“They’ve been picked through and so it’s not as though it’s a crime scene, an uncontaminated crime scene there.”
A spokesman for the ABC said that the report had been re-edited to “avoid any distress to our audience.”
“The ABC has reminded journalists of responsibilities when reporting from an air crash scene such as MH17,” said the spokesman.
Griffith University crash forensics expert Kirsty Wright told Fairfax that the integrity of the site was crucial at the beginning of the investigation.
“In any forensic investigation you don’t know what item, or items, are going to contain the most critical pieces of evidence,” said Ms Wright.
“For this reason all items within a crime scene, no matter what they are or whether they seem relevant or not to the investigation at the time of recovery, should be treated the same.
This is not the first time that journalists at the scene have been criticised for handling items at the site, with Sky News forced to apologise when one of its reporters rummaged through a victim’s luggage on the weekend.