February 28, 2024

London Police Relent on Demand for Reporters’ Sources in Hacking Scandal

In a statement, police officials said they had consulted the Crown Prosecution Service, which would be responsible for pursuing the case in the courts if it were to go ahead, and that the agency had asked for more information. As a result, police officials had decided to delay a decision on how to proceed.

But this “does not mean that the investigation has concluded,” the statement said. “We have agreed with the C.P.S. that we will work jointly with them in considering the next steps.”

The prospect of reporters being forced to reveal their sources has led to outrage across the British news media, even from some of the Guardian’s bitterest rivals.

“We greatly welcome the Met’s decision to withdraw this ill-judged order,” the Guardian’s editor, Alan Rusbridger, said.

The apparent reversal is highly embarrassing for the police. Last week, they said they would seek a court order to force the Guardian to reveal, among other things, the sources for its articles about how The News of the World tabloid illegally intercepted the voice mail messages of a girl who was kidnapped and then murdered.

The Guardian’s initial article about the girl, Milly Dowler, generated widespread revulsion and started a chain of events leading to the closure of the newspaper, part of Rupert Murdoch’s media empire. News International, Mr. Murdoch’s British newspaper arm, reportedly has offered the Dowler family about $3.2 million, with an additional payment of about $1.6 million to go to charity, in compensation.

Angry that the Guardian had obtained information about the Dowler case, the police decided to find out who had provided it. In August, a senior officer from Operation Weeting, the police phone-hacking investigation, was arrested on suspicion of disclosing unauthorized information in violation of Britain’s Official Secrets Act. He has not yet been formally charged but has been suspended from his job.

A Guardian reporter, Amelia Hill, was also questioned by the police in connection with the possible leak.

In their statement explaining why they had apparently changed their mind about pursuing the Guardian, the police said that “there was no intention to target journalists or disregard journalists’ obligations to protect their sources.” They were instead “gathering any evidence” about how the material had been obtained by the paper, they explained.

“It is not acceptable for police officers to leak information about any investigation, let alone one as sensitive and high profile as Operation Weeting,” the police said.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/22/world/europe/london-police-relent-on-demand-for-reporters-sources-in-hacking-scandal.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Speak Your Mind