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Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals

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Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals

Post by Get'emGonçalo on 13.02.17 8:15

Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals 



11 February 2017 • 8:27pm


Campaigners have expressed outrage at new proposals that could lead to journalists being jailed for up to 14 years for obtaining leaked official documents.
The major overhaul of the Official Secrets Act – to be replaced by an updated Espionage Act – would give courts the power to increase jail terms against journalists receiving official material.
The new law, should it get approval, would see documents containing “sensitive information” about the economy fall foul of national security laws for the first time.
In theory a journalist leaked Brexit documents deemed harmful to the UK economy could be jailed as a consequence.

One legal expert said the new changes would see the maximum jail sentence increase from two years to 14 years; make it an offence to “obtain or gather” rather than simply share official secrets; and to extend the scope of the law to cover information that damages “economic well-being”.

John Cooper QC, a leading criminal and human rights barrister who has served on two law commission working parties, added: “These reforms would potentially undermine some of the most important principles of an open democracy.”
Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship, said: “The proposed changes are frightening and have no place in a democracy, which relies on having mechanisms to hold the powerful to account.
“It is unthinkable that whistle blowers and those to whom they reveal their information should face jail for leaking and receiving information that is in the public interest.”
Her organisation has accused the Law Commission, the Government’s statutory legal advisers, of failing to consult fully with journalists before making its recommendations in a 326-page consultation published earlier this month.
“It is shocking that so few organisations were consulted on these proposed changes given the huge implications for public interest journalism in this country,” said Ms Ginsberg.
The Law Commission sought advice from media groups including Guardian Media as well as civil liberties groups including Liberty and Open Rights Group.
Other groups consulted included the intelligence agencies MI5 and MI6 as well as several government departments and senior politicians and lawyers.
It is fundamentally un-British to try to control journalists in this way. It is completely unreasonableJim Killock, chief executive of the Open Rights Group
 Jim Killock, chief executive of the Open Rights Group, said: “It is clearly an attempt to criminalise ordinary journalism. The idea seems to be to criminalise the act of handling leaked documents which would prevent the public from knowing when the government is breaking the law.
“It is fundamentally un-British to try to control journalists in this way. It is completely unreasonable to equate any leak of secret information as an act of espionage.”
The Law Commission’s proposed changes would replace four official Secrets Acts dating back to 1911. The changes do not allow for a statutory public interest defence.
The Law Commission recommendations state that there should be “no restriction on who can commit the offence,” including hackers, politicians and journalists.
The new proposals will now go out to further consultation which will be open until April 3.
Conservative MP Damian Collins, chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, said: “We need to look at these proposals very carefully. Whistle blowing can be in the national interest.
“We need to ensure that we get the balance right between protecting sensitive official information and allowing debate about facts where there is a clear and overwhelming national interest.”
A Law Commission spokesman said it was “both misleading and incorrect” to suggest journalists were at any greater risk under the planned law changes.
The spokesman added: “The current offences contained in the Official Secrets Act 1911 are broad. We are seeking views on how the law could meet 21st century challenges whilst also ensuring people don’t inadvertently commit serious offences.
“Our provisional recommendations make a number of suggestions to improve the current laws around the protection of official data and we welcome views in our open public consultation.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/11/journalists-obtain-leaked-official-material-could-sent-prison/

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Re: Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals

Post by BlueBag on 13.02.17 10:34

Freedom of speech.

Freedom to whistleblow.

Important principles in any free society.

They are desperate to clamp down on us, keep us in the dark and control the information we are given and exchange.

1984
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Re: Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals

Post by worriedmum on 13.02.17 12:10

Totally agree, Bluebag.
On the other hand, we haven't seen many MSM journalists sticking their necks out, have we? And I haven't seen the Supreme Court's ruling reported by the BBC yet either...
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Re: Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals

Post by Verdi on 13.02.17 12:55

@worriedmum wrote: And I haven't seen the Supreme Court's ruling reported by the BBC yet either...
It's here..

Madeleine McCann's parents 'disappointed' by libel ruling

2nd February 2017

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-38836473

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Re: Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals

Post by worriedmum on 13.02.17 14:53

@Verdi wrote:
@worriedmum wrote: And I haven't seen the Supreme Court's ruling reported by the BBC yet either...
It's here..

Madeleine McCann's parents 'disappointed' by libel ruling

2nd February 2017

http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-38836473
Thanks , Verdi I should have been more specific. I mean the Judge's announcement that the parents 'had not been ruled innocent' (Daily Telegraph).
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Re: Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals

Post by Get'emGonçalo on 13.02.17 18:38


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