Judge ‘must approve’ phone access


Published: Wednesday 4th February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

A judge should have to give authorisation before police can access journalists’ phone records to identify their sources, an official report has recommended.

Interception of Communications Commissioner Sir Anthony May found the current Home Office rules for using the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) did not “provide adequate safeguards to protect journalistic sources”.

“It is recommended that judicial authorisation is obtained in cases where communications data is sought to determine the source of journalistic information,” the report said.

A review of the use of the Ripa surveillance powers was launched in October after alarm was expressed about incidents such as Scotland Yard accessing the phone records of Sun reporter Tom Newton Dunn to find who had leaked information on the Plebgate row.

The commissioner found that over a three-year period 19 police forces had sought communications data in relation to 34 investigations into illicit dealings between public officials and journalists.

Some 608 applications for such data were authorised, by a ranking officer. But the report stressed that was just 0.1% of the total applications authorised by police under the legislation.

It also concluded that police had not used Ripa to circumvent other legislation and forces were not “randomly trawling communications data relating to journalists in order to identify their sources”.

“Generally speaking, the police forces did not give the question of necessity, proportionality and collateral intrusion sufficient consideration,” the report said.

“They focused on privacy considerations (Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights) and did not give due consideration to freedom of speech (Article 10).

“The current Home Office Code of Practice (and the recently revised draft Code said to provide protection for sensitive professions) do not provide adequate safeguards to protect journalistic sources or prevent unnecessary or disproportionate intrusions.”

Published: Wednesday 4th February 2015 by The News Editor

Comments (0)

Local business search