IFJ Voices Concerns over Police Probe of Investigative Reporter in UK

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today voices concerns

over the action of Police in the United Kingdom after a reporter with the Guardian newspaper was questioned over a

story related to the phone hacking scandal by journalists of the News of the World,

the British tabloid which closed in June.

The journalist, Amelia Hill, was questioned by officers following an

article in the Guardian which

revealed the arrest of a former News of the World showbiz editor, James

Desborough, as part of the Operating Weeting inquiry into illegal phone

tapping.

"Journalists are entitled to publish information obtained through fair

and legal means," said Jim Boumelha, IFJ President. "These include private

briefings by people who possess information which is credible and is of public

interest."  

According

to the National Union of Journalists in England and Ireland (NUJ), an IFJ

affiliate, the news of Hill's questioning came almost three

weeks after a Scotland Yard detective was arrested for allegedly leaking

information to the newspaper.

NUJ General Secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, dismissed any allegations

that the journalist might have bribed her source and warned against criminalising sources.

"There is a vital

journalistic principle at stake here. It is outrageous that an allegation of

off-the-record briefings is being treated as a criminal matter. There is a

clear distinction between legitimate off-the-record interviews and the illegitimate

payment of bribes."

The IFJ supports the NUJ

position and says that efforts to stamp out unethical practices in journalism

following the phone tapping scandal must not be to the detriment of the vital

role of investigative journalism.

"Investigative journalism is

about accessing information which is not readily available in the public

domain," added Boumelha. "Off the records briefings are a vital tool in this

regard and journalism would be poorer if investigative reporters were scared

off by threats of criminal bribery charges." 



The IFJ

represents more than 600.000 journalists in 131 countries

For more information,

please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07