Police clampdowns on sources continue

Earlier this year The Blog revealed how Thames Valley Police is at it again – this time refusing to give any compensation to Sally Murrer, the journalist it pursued for 19 months.
Now it seems other forces are joining in the ‘crackdown’ on newspapers which dare to use police sources – and the officers who speak to the press.
The BBC reported this week how a Norfolk Police officer was sacked for allegedly leaking stories to the Eastern Daily Press.
The officer is now appealing the decision after the EDP refused to reveal its sources.
A police investigation had been launched after stories critical of the police appeared in the paper, including coverage of the scrapping of the force diving team and the discovery of a box of police files in a car park.
Police raided the EDP and two reporters were questioned, but refused to reveal their sources.
The case has definite parallels with that of Milton Keynes Citizen reporter Murrer.
The weekly paper also had its offices searched and the police source who spoke to her, Mark Kearney, ended up facing trial alongside her.
All charges were dismissed in that case and the EDP reporters seem to have escaped censure here, but the attacks on press freedom by the police are worrying indeed.
To round-up the Norfolk case, The Police Federation, which is representing the policeman concerned, told the BBC: “The officer was dismissed following an internal inquiry and that officer is appealing the decision.
“He maintains his innocence. It is anticipated that the appeal will be heard by the Police Appeals Tribunal in the summer.”
Norfolk Police told the BBC: “We cannot disclose details of internal disciplinary procedures.
“However, it is a matter of fact that an officer was dismissed on January 14 for a breach of the standards of professional behaviour relating to confidentiality.
“The matter is now the subject of a police appeals tribunal.”

With thanks: Press Gazette

State of Play: Beware the (too) long arm of the law


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