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
"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
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."
represents more than 600.000 journalists in 131 countries
For more information,
please contact IFJ on + 32 2 235 22 07