Channel 4 may break journalism ethics tradition and give police unseen footage of London Bridge terrorist Khuram Butt

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Khuram Butt in “The Jihadis Next Door.”
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Channel 4/Mentorn Media

Channel 4 is considering handing police the unbroadcast footage of London Bridge terrorist Khuram Butt from its 2016 documentary “The Jihadis Next Door,” according to two sources familiar with the discussions.

The broadcaster approached the Metropolitan Police on Monday to make it aware of the film, in which Butt was featured worshiping an ISIS-style flag and in an altercation with police.

The broadcaster’s legal team has been liaising with Scotland Yard in recent days, as the investigation continues into Saturday’s attack, which left eight dead and 48 wounded, the sources told Business Insider.

It is unusual for a broadcaster to contact the police in this way, but sources have told Business Insider that Channel 4 will “consider any request” for footage. It is yet to decide if it will cooperate completely, but the gravity of the attack and the importance of the counter-terror operation are factors in Channel 4’s thinking.

Broadcasters routinely fight police requests for unseen TV footage. The thinking is that providing access to such material may endanger journalists, who could be seen as an evidence-gathering arm of the police, and thus targeted by the people who are the subject of their stories.

There have been a number of high-profile battles for un-aired footage in recent years.

Police wanted the BBC, ITN (which produces ITV, Channel 4, and Channel 5’s news output), and Sky News to hand over unbroadcast material from the London riots in 2011. Broadcasters refused and Scotland Yard had to get a court order. The court eventually ruled in the police’s favour. There was a similar battle for footage of the clearance of Travellers’ camp, Dale Farm, in 2011.

Netflix removes “The Jihadis Next Door” from library

It is not known how much un-aired footage exists of Khuram Butt. The documentary was directed by freelance filmmaker Jamie Roberts and produced through Mentorn Media, which also makes BBC1’s “Question Time.”

It was broadcast in January last year and is no longer available on Channel 4’s online video player, All 4. The documentary was also licensed to Netflix, but the company removed it from its library on Monday. This is because it features a number of people who may be of interest to the police, creating a contempt of court risk.

Roberts has been in regular contact with Mentorn and Channel 4 since Saturday’s attack. Mentorn has not made him available for interviews, despite numerous requests from media worldwide.

His film has been something of a headache for Scotland Yard. It has prompted questions about why police did not do more to investigate Butt and prevent him from carrying out Saturday’s atrocity.

Butt was the “ringleader” and was known as “Abz,” according to The Sun. He was of Pakistani origin, and had two children, the newspaper said.

The 27-year-old worked in KFC and for fashion retailer Top Shop. Transport for London also confirmed he worked for London Underground last year for under six months as a trainee customer services assistant, according to the BBC.

Butt was known to the police and MI5, the Met said in a statement. They added, however, that there was no intelligence to suggest that the attack was being planned.