Yesterday’s news that Amy Winehouse had been found dead was a very sad moment by any measure. The all too soon death of such a talented artist may have not been entirely unexpected, but the media reaction was perhaps more inevitable - in death, as in life, Ms Winehouse remains a huge media draw - as the scrum of photographers and TV crews outside her Camden home demonstrates.
In the current climate, the situation also raises some very awkward questions about the role of the emergency services. The news was public literally minutes after her body was found, and I myself had an email from a national newspaper asking for photos from Wednesday’s iTunes show - now Amy’s last public appearance. I understand her father, Mitch, found out about the news when a reporter called him.
It has long been the case that newspapers pay for tip-offs in these circumstances, and given recent events I cannot help but wonder whether the ongoing investigation into information being sold to reporters should be widened to cover this kind of tip-off.
We now know her body was discovered at 3.54pm and by 5.46pm the Associated Press was tweeting the news. By that time, the story would have had to be sourced and confirmed, so I expect AP was aware of the news some time before then. According to a Metropolitan statement: “We were called by London Ambulance Service to an address in Camden Square shortly before 16.05hrs following reports of a woman found deceased. On arrival officers found the body of a 27-year-old female who was pronounced dead at the scene.”
The sight of a body being removed from the flat in full view of an organised and very busy media area is something that I myself found very uncomfortable - and I say that as a press card carrying photographer.
However, the possibility that someone profited from discovering the body of a dead woman - who happened to be in the public eye - in the course of performing their duties as a part of emergency service should trouble us far more than allegations of phone hacking.