Monday, 19 September 2011

Times: Met's action against Guardian 'shameful'

The Times today follows the Sunday Times in condemning the action by the Metropolitan Police to try and force the Guardian to disclose the sources of its story that Milly Dowler's phone was hacked.

The Times says: "The Met’s invoking the Official Secrets Act against The Guardian is a shameful attempt to pressure a newspaper and its reporters, and create a climate of fear within Scotland Yard. For the police cannot claim that this is a case of protecting national security. It looks more like an attempt to prevent institutional embarrassment.

"The State needs to maintain secrets that relate direct to national security and intelligence. Secrecy legislation should have no place whatever in preventing newspapers from uncovering official negligence, incompetence and worse.

"The law is being invoked in this case not to protect the public interest but as a punitive measure to curb journalistic inquiry and pursue a sectarian and self-interested campaign. If it succeeds, the victim will not be not only the press, but also the vigour of British democracy."

The Telegraph has joined the chorus of disapoproval. It says in a leader today: "This is an intolerable abuse of power and one that the new commissioner, Bernard Hogan-Howe, must put a stop to today. It is hardly a good start to his term of office. And if he won't, then Dominic Grieve, the Attorney General, should use his discretion to rule that the continuation of this line of inquiry by the Met is not in the public interest."

The Independent, also in a leader today, says: "It is a travesty to use laws designed to protect national security as a lever for accessing information, let alone from a newspaper bringing further details of the hacking affair to light. Under the leadership of Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, Operation Weeting was just starting to claw back some credibility for the Met. The latest development suggests the police still do not know where the public interest lies."

  • The Times is behind a paywall

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