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NUJ statement on police investigations of the Darroch cables leak

15 July 2019

 Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

“The police must stop making the press a target of its investigations and expecting journalists to give up their sources – journalists do not do that. The NUJ’s code of conduct makes that explicit. The Mail on Sunday was perfectly within its rights to publish cables sent by the former British ambassador to the US Sir Kim Darroch. Its latest report on President Trump’s motives for abandoning the Iran nuclear deal is indisputably a matter of public interest. The notion that journalists and editors should take pointers from the police as to what they should or shouldn’t report would be laughable if it wasn’t so serious. Journalists are not there to do the bidding for the authorities, or to act as shortcuts in police investigations. Much is being made about which government ministers and potential future premiers are saying all the right things about the sanctity of a free press, but the reality is that this government has repeatedly encroached on the rights of journalists and their ability to protect their sources, with secret and draconian surveillance laws that offer scant protections. Here again the police are targeting the messenger, hot on the heels of a recent case where NUJ members Barry McCaffrey and Trevor Birney were arrested by the Police Service of Northern Ireland for their film exposing police collusion with paramilitaries responsible for six deaths at Loughlinsland in 1994. When they were exonerated in court, Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan made clear that the work of journalists is essential in holding the state to account and that the authorities should expect that journalists will abide by the NUJ code of conduct. Whistleblowers and sources need to be able to come forward and share information they believe the public should know about in the certain knowledge their identifies will be protected. Without that protection, we simply won't have a functioning free press.”

Tags: , protection of sources, nuj code of conduct, code of conduct, media freedom, Kim Darroch, mail on sunday, sunday times