DATE: 6 February 2015
A call by the Interception of Communications Commissioner, Sir Anthony May, for judicial authorisation to be sought before journalists’ communication data is accessed is welcomed by the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ).
[frame align=”left”] [/frame]But will those in charge act responsibly and heed this advice?
In recent months there have been numerous examples of a vociferous tightening grip which is undermining the way journalists work. All of which has left eye witnesses and whistleblowers out in the cold, says the CIoJ.
Statements by Metropolitan Police, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Chief Executive of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), all agreed that they would keep using undercover surveillance on journalists’ phone records, and, keep prosecuting journalists in courts.
Bitter arguments keep being used against journalists, with little justification,” said CIoJ President, Paul Leighton. “Four journalists have been jailed for an outlay of more than £33.5 million by the Metropolitan Police – the equivalent sum would put an extra 600 police officers on duty or fund 20 investigations into serious crimes like murder, we are told. Now, with no sense of humility, the CPS is seeking to spend more money on retrials.
“At the same time Hogan-Howe has defended the use of RIPA to secretly seize journalists’ phone records, and to what ends? So that the Police may sack their own staff for talking to journalists – nothing to do with terrorism measures, which is what the law was, allegedly, brought in to protect.
“With no hint of irony Hogan-Howe recently revealed to the Police and Crime Committee that the Met is in talks with news organisations about ensuring live coverage does not undermine their response to a future terrorist siege. Now we see that he wants co-operation from media outlets as he does his best to undermine them in his next breath.”
Recently Hogan-Howe said: “When police and security services respond we want to make sure our ability to respond is not restricted by [media] coverage.”
“Welcome to our world, Mr Hogan-Howe,” said Leighton, “because the media need to know that when we respond to an incident, or anything else in the public interest, we will not be hounded by law enforcement agencies fulfilling a political vendetta.
“When the legal services start behaving in this way, it starts to ring alarm bells for the freedom of information.”
Notes for editors:
- In Croydon the police issued an harassment order against a journalist who door-stepped someone who was convicted of fraud and eight months later that is still in place and being defended.
- Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.