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UK surveillance legal judgement is a blow to journalists & press freedom

29 July 2019

Working with the human rights organisation Liberty, the NUJ intervened in the judicial review of the UK's Investigatory Powers Act 2016. The case has been lost today in the High Court.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"The legal judgment is a blow to journalists and press freedom. The union has consistently challenged the UK’s investigatory powers and the authorities continue to use extensive secret surveillance techniques. The NUJ is concerned that the ability to access journalistic communications, in particular bulk interceptions and interference, without prior independent authority, places whistleblowers and sources at risk, and makes it more difficult to hold those in power to account. This risks jeopardising the role of the media as the public’s watchdog. The NUJ will now consider the judgment in more detail with a view to appealing." 

Megan Goulding, Liberty lawyer, said:

"This disappointing judgment allows the government to continue to spy on every one of us, violating our rights to privacy and free expression. We will challenge this judgment in the courts, and keep fighting for a targeted surveillance regime that respects our rights. These bulk surveillance powers allow the state to hoover up the messages, calls and web history of hordes of ordinary people who are not suspected of any wrong-doing. The Court recognised the seriousness of MI5’s unlawful handling of our data, which only emerged as a result of this litigation. The security services have shown that they cannot be trusted to keep our data safe and respect our rights."

Access the full legal judgement - Bulk surveillance powers do not breach freedom of expression rights, Divisional Court rules in Liberty legal challenge. Jude Bunting argued the article 10 points for the NUJ.

Tags: , surveillance, investigatory powers act, legal action, legal challenge, ethics, sources, protection of sources, whistleblowers, whistleblowing