Home > Censorship, Government, Surveillance > New powers for UK police ‘will curb Press freedom’: Officers will be allowed to confiscate material from journalists.

New powers for UK police ‘will curb Press freedom’: Officers will be allowed to confiscate material from journalists.

By Jack Doyle  15th February 2013.    Find Full Article Here:-

  • Sweeping measures allow officers to demand information from sources
  • Changes may also see journalists forced to reveal whistleblowers’ identities
  • Worries over the affect new rules will have on freedom of speech

Police are set to be given new powers to seize confidential material from journalists.

In a worrying blow to Press freedom, the changes may also mean journalists will be forced to identify whistleblowers to the police.

Critics said the Home Office proposals, which follow recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson, would undermine investigative journalism and free speech.

It is feared that the changes will remove legal protections for anyone who releases material to reporters unless journalists can show their source did not breach confidentiality or act illegally.

The computer disc that contained the details of how MPs had been rampantly fiddling their expenses was technically stolen by a Westminster employee.

Padraig Reidy, of Index on Censorship, said: ‘These measures, if implemented, could have a real effect on journalism, free speech and the entire climate of  freedom in the UK.

‘They grievously undermine the concept of confidentiality between reporters and sources that is essential for investigative journalism.’

Currently, journalists have protection under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) from disclosing material to the police, even if  it had been obtained by a source  acting in breach of confidence or unlawfully.

But during the Leveson inquiry, the police argued those protections should be removed, and the judge agreed.

It raises the prospect that someone who uncovers wrongdoing will not come forward if they risk being named to the police.

In a further attack on PACE, Lord Leveson suggested it could be made easier for the police to seize items belonging to journalists which may be linked to criminality.

Currently a judge can approve  an order forcing media groups to hand over information but, crucially, detectives must first show they have tried to get the material by other means.

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