Well now that there is no doubt whatsoever that football is coming home, and that England are nailed on certainties to win the FIFA World Cup, so the wearing of waistcoats will become law and spontaneous renditions of the national anthem will break out at any public gathering* I feel I can draw to your attention one particular media crisis tip that was highlighted earlier this month in Russia.


The incident in question was the photograph apparently showing the likely England line up and formation ahead of their group game against Panama that appeared in the national press.  Some commentators cried “Foul!” whilst others, largely in the media, said it was all part of the game and that play should continue. 



Jeremy Selwyn/Evening Standard

 Taking photographs of exposed documents is nothing new.

Caroline Flint, the then Housing Minister back in 2008 revealed the headline contents of a report that expressed a very gloomy outlook for the housing market when she was photographed walking into Downing Street with her briefing papers visible through a plastic document wallet. Close inspection revealed that her document read: "We can't tell how bad it will get." It also revealed that she intended to announce extra help for first time buyers. All deeply embarrassing!                                 

Photograph: Lewis Whyld/PA

 The interesting fact is that the press team inside Number 10 had been told that the lenses used by cameramen were capable of getting quality pictures from distance of any exposed documents but either they chose to ignore the warning or the message wasn’t getting through.

Only a few months later Britain's top counter-terrorism officer resigned after admitting he could have jeopardised an operation to thwart a possible terror plot. Assistant Commissioner Bob Quick revealed a document to photographers whilst, once again, going into Number 10 Downing Street to brief the Prime Minister on the operation. As a result, police were forced to bring their operation forward.

Photo: Steve Back /

So, the tip is if you have confidential material keep it covered. If you have it exposed photographers may capture it and publish the images irrespective of how embarrassing or damaging it may be. Don’t pay the penalty or score that own goal, if you don’t want it shown then keep it hidden.


* All subject to change


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