IFJ Joins Protest against Threat to Confidentiality of Sources from Police in UK

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and its European

group, the Federation of European Journalists (EFJ) today joined the chorus of

condemnation which greeted news that the Metropolitan Police are invoking the

Official Secrets Acts 1989 to force journalists to reveal their sources.

Media reports in the United Kingdom revealed that Scotland Yard last

week sought an order under the Official Secrets Act to compel the Guardian newspaper to disclose the source

of information published by the paper on the phone hacking scandal. The news

drew widespread criticism from journalists and the political establishment with

senior politicians calling for the Attorney General, the government's most

senior law officer to block the police's attempt, reports say.

"This is an outrageous abuse of power seeking to turn journalists into unwilling

informers of the police," said Arne König, EFJ President. "It is

little wonder it has been resoundingly rejected as a measure more likely to find favour in police states' regimes and we support

efforts to defeat it."

The Guardian newspaper exposed the hacking scandal in

2008 by journalists of the News of the World, the oldest British tabloid owned

by Rupert Murdoch which closed down in July 2011 following the scandal of the

illegal telephone tapping of thousands of people, including families of victims

of crime and terrorism. The Metropolitan Police launched Operation

Weeting inquiry

into illegal phone tapping after coming under pressure for their failure to investigate the Guardian's initial story about the

practice at the tabloid.

Police early this month questioned under caution Amelia

Hill, a reporter for

the Guardian, following

an article in the newspaper which revealed the arrest of former News of the

World showbiz editor, James Desborough, as part of the Operating Weeting

inquiry into illegal phone tapping.  

The IFJ supports the National Union of Journalists in Great Britain and

Ireland (NUJ), an IFJ affiliate, which has accused the police of engaging in a

witch hunt against journalists, saying this latest attempt in their

investigations is a breach of journalism's basic principle.

"The protection of sources is an essential principle which has been

repeatedly reaffirmed by the European Court of Human Rights as the cornerstone

of press freedom and the NUJ shall defend it," said Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ

General Secretary. "In 2007, a judge made it clear that journalists and their

sources are protected under article 10 of the Human Rights Act which applies to

leaked material. The use of the Official Secrets Act is a disgraceful attempt

to get round this existing judgement."

The Guardian reported yesterday that the Attorney General's office

had said he would rule on whether a prosecution under the Official Secrets Act was

in the public interest before a case could proceed.

For more

information, please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07

The IFJ represents more than

600.000 journalists in 131 countries