NUJ welcomes protection of sources victory at Old Bailey

  • 22 Mar 2022

At a hearing at London’s Old Bailey today West Midlands Police failed in their legal bid to force NUJ member Chris Mullin to reveal the source for his Birmingham Six investigations.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary welcomed the outcome and paid tribute to Chris Mullin:

“This judgment is a hopeful beacon at a time when we rely more than ever on dependable news, despite journalists facing mounting legal challenges. Few reporters have been more courageous and dogged than Chris Mullin, nor have they been so spectacularly vindicated.

“This case threatened press freedom and amounted to another attempt to criminalise the legitimate actions of journalists. In refusing this production order, the judge has recognised the principle that the NUJ will always defend – that protecting sources underpins every journalist’s ability to report.

“I hope that West Midlands Police now chooses to devote its many powers to amassing sufficient credible evidence to secure a conviction for those terrible bombings. 

Chris Mullin said outside the Old Bailey: 

“I am grateful to Judge Lucraft for his decision.  The right of a journalist to protect his or her sources is fundamental to a free press in a democracy. 

“My actions in this case were overwhelmingly in the public interest. They led to the release of six innocent men after 17 years in prison, the winding up of the notorious West Midlands Serious Crimes Squad and the quashing of a further 30 or so wrongful convictions.

"This case also resulted in the setting up a Royal Commission which, among other reforms, led to the setting up of the Criminal Cases Review Commission and the quashing of another 500 or more wrongful convictions.  My investigation is also the main reason why the identity of three of the four bombers is known. 

“Finally, I am grateful to the National Union of Journalists for their unswerving support and also to my legal representatives, Louis Charalambous and Gavin Millar QC.”

Louis Charalambous of Simons Muirhead Burton said:

 “This is a landmark freedom of expression decision which properly recognises the public interest in Chris Mullin’s journalism which led to the release of the Birmingham Six. If a confidential source cannot rely on a journalist’s promise of lifelong protection, then these investigations will never see the light of day.”

Protection of sources
  • 09 May 2022
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