Reporter on MH17 luggage shots: I crossed a line

Last updated 15:37 23/07/2014

Sky reporter's MH17 luggage gaffe

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The reporter who sparked a global maelstrom of outrage after he rifled through Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash victims' luggage on live television says he "got things wrong".

Sky News presenter Colin Brazier picked up a drink bottle and a set of keys from a child's suitcase that lay amongst debris at the crash site during rolling news coverage of the disaster.

The plane was shot down over Ukraine by a missile of unconfirmed origin last week.

Brazier has reiterated his remorse in a first-person account published on the Guardian website.

"At the weekend I got things wrong. If there was someone to apologise to in person, I would. ... Certainly it was a serious error of judgment. I acknowledged that and so did Sky," Brazier said.

Sky had made a decision not to film anywhere a corpse might have been, but decided to show passengers' belongings as they "brought home the poignancy of the tragedy", he said.

When Brazier saw a pink drinking flask just like one his six-year-old daughter has, he broke down on air. "Too late, I realised that I was crossing a line," he said. "I thought aloud: "We shouldn't be doing this ... this is a mistake."

Brazier said other journalists were also handling belongings on camera and that "in a place without rules, I foolishly took that as a precedent".

Brazier's actions came as Australia was calling for respect for the 298 dead in the crash.

Viewers were outraged, and there were calls on social media for Brazier to be fired.

Joe Watson, a professor of Mass Media at Baker University in the United States said it was a "horrible moment for journalism".

BBC radio presenter Shelagh Fogarty said: "Sky!! Get your reporter to STOP rummaging thru the belongings at #mH17 crash site. 'We shouldn't really be doing this' NO S*** Sherlock !! Those items are essentially sacred things now for the relatives. Just appalling."

BBC presenter Jacqui Oatley tweeted she was "astonished".

A post by Joey Blower added: "Colin Brazier has interfered with a crime scene in the most distasteful manner. It must be investigated fully."

Sky News later apologised, saying: "Today whilst presenting from the site of the MH17 air crash Colin Brazier reflected on the human tragedy of the event and showed audiences the content of one of the victims' bags. Colin immediately recognised that this was inappropriate and said so on air. Both Colin and Sky News apologise profusely for any offence caused."

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Brazier later gave an account of the human remains at the site.

"I've been walking around, coming across body parts all the time, many of them charred beyond recognition," he said.

"Men, women and children, indeterminate frankly, you can't tell. Very often you are looking at charred spines, that's all that's left."

- Stuff

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