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News International's betrayal is 'serious threat to press freedom'

13 February 2012

Press freedom is being severely undermined by the heavy-handed action of the police conducting dawn raids on journalists' homes, the NUJ has warned. The police operation follows the decision by News International to make millions of emails from its staff available to the police.

The NUJ has express concern that the indiscriminate release of this material is putting at risk legitimate whistleblowers who were told that they would be protected. The union has received calls from journalists and from whistleblowers who feel betrayed by News Corp's Management and Standards Committee's disclosure of this material, which includes more than 300 million emails, expense claims, phone records and other documents .

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, condemned the manner of the dawn arrests:

"Journalists are reeling after seeing five more of their colleagues thrown to the wolves. There is a real sense of a witch-hunt being carried out right now. Journalists at the title are furious at what they see as a monumental betrayal on the part of News International. As my evidence to the Leveson Inquiry showed, journalists are often bullied by management to get stories at any cost.
"Now they are finding they are being shopped by the management that gave them their orders. The reputation of these journalists – and let's remember they have not been convicted of anything – will inevitably be damaged.
"The NUJ believes that newspapers should co-operate with the police where there is evidence of illegal activity, but making this material available without consultation with the journalists involved is unacceptable.
"We are receiving calls from whistle-blowers who had been assured that they would be protected, and who now fear for their jobs and worse. Journalists at the Sun – who are offered no protection from a union independent from the News International management, which is now sacrificing them to appease American shareholders – are welcome to join the NUJ."

Tags: , news international, the sun, newspapers, protection of sources, management and standards group