Please take action to ensure the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act is not used by public authorities to secretly obtain journalists' phone records and identify confidential sources.
A free and open democratic society relies on whistleblowers to expose scandals and corruption in our public institutions.
The secret monitoring of journalists’ telephone records by public authorities risks turning Britain into a more secret state.
The Operation Alice closing report by the Met Police revealed the force used RIPA to secretly obtain the phone records of Sun political editor Tom Newton Dunn and details of calls made to The Sun newsdesk. This information was used to track down and then sack three police officers accused of leaking information about the 'Plebgate' affair (even though the Crown Prosecution Service said they had no case to answer).
Urgent action is needed to find out how many times public authorities have used RIPA to obtain the phone records of journalists and to ensure new guidelines are in place to prevent this happening in future.
It is a well established legal principle that there is a huge public interest in the protection of confidential journalistic sources under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights (freedom of expression).
If law enforcement authorities require access to confidential journalistic material (such as phone records) they should make a public request to the journalist or news organisation involved. And if neccessary they should argue the case before a judge in the procedure set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.
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