A matter of life and death
It was produced by ITV News' Deborah Turness and the BBC's Sam Taylor and used dry ice, countdown clocks, spotlights and partial stories to create a pressurised atmosphere for the panellists. The scenario was set so that there was a danger of being reckless, but also that we could be overly cautious, not reporting parts of a story that should be told.
The scenario began with a shakily sourced report that a "major incident" was taking place in Wilmslow - there was a large police presence and it was suggested that the local chief constable wanted a news blackout.
After some discussion we were asked if we would report the story - there was a ten second countdown, after which I held up my sign saying "no" - I would want to find out a lot more information, not least about why the authorities wanted a blackout - there could be a very good reason why the right of the public to know could be substantially outweighed by the need to protect people (though I would be making preparations to report the story should I need to).
Others on the panel were prepared to report this information. This obviously complicates things - if information is in the public domain, is it better for the BBC to wait and find out more, or to break a blackout that has been substantially weakened?
In my view I was still not ready to go ahead with the report. Don't get me wrong - I passionately believe that my duty is to report the news unless there is an extremely good reason why not - but it would be irresponsible not to find out why the authorities wanted to stop this story being told.
The situation changed when the police revealed some more information. A statement was released saying that a serving British soldier on leave from Iraq had been kidnapped by a radical, home-grown Islamic group - they asked that we keep his identity secret, but gave no reason why. For me this made the situation more straightforward - we would effectively be in rolling news mode on News 24 covering what would have been one of the major news stories of the year, though we would have respected the request not to identify the soldier.
Things did not stay straightforward for long. A video was delivered to us from the kidnappers - it showed a soldier with a noose round his neck in an orange jumpsuit, surrounded by two balaclava-wearing men pointing guns at him. He said that the men holding him would kill him if the tape was not broadcast within an hour.
The authorities insisted that we should not show the tape because the soldier being held was a senior member of the SAS, who worked on undercover operations in Iraq. There was more discussion and after a ten second countdown we had to decide whether to run the tape or not. This time I held up the "Yes" sign. It seemed absurd to me that the authorities had attempted to impose a blanket ban on running the tape - if the man was killed the fact that his identity needed to be kept a secret for operations would be irrelevant… but here's the really key point: editorial decisions are not always yes or no - they are often compromises. What the kidnappers wanted broadcast was what was being said, not the identity of their captive. I would have run the tape, blurring the soldier's face.
In my view the life of the soldier was protected by the decision, and it was the authorities that were being irresponsible.
You could argue that it would be wrong to broadcast terrorist propaganda, but the truth is people are highly unlikely to be radicalised by exposure to this kind of thing, and if they are, there is plenty of it on the internet.
You could also argue that giving people the oxygen of publicity only encourages them more. There is some truth to that claim - but on balance the real life of this soldier outweighed some hypothetical future situation.
Others on the panel would have run the video without disguising the soldier's identity.
The session climaxed with a live shot of the building where the soldier was being held being stormed. Would we play the pictures live?
This time the audience was asked what they would do - about 70 to 80% said they would run them live. Everyone on the panel except me said they would run them live. I said I would run them, but with a significant delay, allowing me time to stop the broadcast if something horrific happened.
This was perhaps the easiest decision of all - in a situation where almost everyone involved has a gun, you cannot be sure what the outcome will be, you could be presenting your audience with scenes of extreme violence, or something totally unforeseen could happen. It could end well, and our competitors would have the story well before us, but when lives are in danger it is irresponsible to let competitive instinct trump the need to do the right thing.
In the end we were shown a clip of a dead hostage. He'd been killed because the kidnappers had access to television, and had been tipped off by broadcasters other than the BBC that the building was about to be stormed.