- Sweeping measures allow officers to demand information from sources
- Changes may also see journalists forced to reveal whistleblowers’ identities
- Worries over the affect new rules will have on freedom of speech
By Jack Doyle
PUBLISHED: 00:23 GMT, 15 February 2013 | UPDATED: 00:26 GMT, 15 February 2013
Police are set to be given powers to confiscate confidential material from reporters, sparking fears over press freedom in the UK. File picture
Police are set to be given new powers to seize confidential material from journalists.
In a worrying blow to Press freedom, the changes may also mean journalists will be forced to identify whistleblowers to the police.
Critics said the Home Office proposals, which follow recommendations made by Lord Justice Leveson, would undermine investigative journalism and free speech.
It is feared that the changes will remove legal protections for anyone who releases material to reporters unless journalists can show their source did not breach confidentiality or act illegally.
The computer disc that contained the details of how MPs had been rampantly fiddling their expenses was technically stolen by a Westminster employee.
Padraig Reidy, of Index on Censorship, said: ‘These measures, if implemented, could have a real effect on journalism, free speech and the entire climate of freedom in the UK.
‘They grievously undermine the concept of confidentiality between reporters and sources that is essential for investigative journalism.’
Currently, journalists have protection under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) from disclosing material to the police, even if it had been obtained by a source acting in breach of confidence or unlawfully.
But during the Leveson inquiry, the police argued those protections should be removed, and the judge agreed.