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NUJ slams SOCA justification to hide company names

19 July 2013

The NUJ ethics council has responded to the reports that the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) in the UK is refusing to identify the companies involved in illegal practices.

NUJ ethics council statement:

"The NUJ ethics council notes the Independent newspaper's report on SOCA refusing to identify the companies involved in illegal practices.

"The council is outraged by the refusal to disclose the names of companies because it would damage the firms' commercial interests. This is a matter of public interest and blue-chip companies, wealthy individuals and high-profile law firms should be brought to book.

"There was no such protection for the journalists dragged out of bed in the early hours, when their homes were raided by police in front of their families and children. Journalists became the scapegoats of the hacking scandal and have been named. Many have lived through hell on bail and have now been cleared.

"Individuals have a right to protect their private and family life, but it is ridiculous that commercial companies can claim the same protection.

"It is in stark contrast to how journalists have been treated. Media companies have supplied the police with the names of journalists and sources. The journalists arrested often felt obliged to carry out management instructions and are now being penalised meanwhile blue-chip companies have been allowed complete impunity for their illegal activities."

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said:

"We fought to get a conscience clause for journalists during the Leveson inquiry so they could have legal protection if they refused assignments they believe would breach the NUJ’s code of conduct.
"Media corporations have sacrificed their journalists as an act of corporate damage limitation. There was no consideration of public interest tests, there was no thought to the consequences of outing journalistic sources, and there was no consideration for the impact on staff who've worked loyally for newspaper titles and done as they've been told.
"It is outrageous that commercial companies are being given special treatment in this way."

Tags: , leveson, soca, phone hacking, journalists arrested