NUJ welcomes victory as Metropolitan Police lose bid to access journalistic material
The union welcomed a High Court ruling against the Metropolitan Police, preventing their access to confidential journalistic material.
In a judgment handed down on 10 November, the judge quashed a previous private ruling, concluding that suspected journalistic material arising from stolen documents could be exempt from protections usually afforded, regarding police examination.
In March, warrants permitting searches of the home of a freelance journalist known in court documents as LXP had been granted under the Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1911.
Following a search and seizure of property, the Metropolitan Police denied any knowledge of LXP’s role as a journalist and later argued in court that even if they were, the material could not be classed as journalistic with relevant protections afforded if they had been disclosed in breach of the OSA. Posing grave threat to media freedom, they sought the disclosure of sources from LXP in action strongly opposed by the NUJ.
Séamus Dooley, NUJ assistant general secretary, said:
“This is a significant victory for press freedom. The NUJ is often at the forefront in supporting our members in challenging attempts by the Metropolitan Police to seize journalistic materials. The right of journalists to protect sources is sacrosanct, this case presented a threat not only to LXP, but potentially to journalism. Efforts to minimise the legal protections in place for journalists will always be opposed by the NUJ and we welcome the court’s ruling as one safeguarding a free press.”