Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Daily Mail speaks out over arrest of Sun journalists as Littlejohn likens police raids to 'Gestapo tactics'

The Daily Mail in a leader today voices its concern over the arrest of Sun journalists and the need for the press to have confidential sources apart from those sanctiond by senior police officers.

It says it is only due to an 11-year-long investigation by the Mail that police chief Ali Dizaei is back behind bars. The Mail also highlights its Stephen Lawrence campaign.

The Mail says: "In all these cases of immense public interest, the Mail braved the threat or reality of legal action whose costs would have closed down many papers.

"In the Dizaei and Lawrence investigations, meanwhile, our reporters relied on confidential sources to help expose truths that would never otherwise have emerged.

"This is why we view with deep concern the current official efforts, reinforced by intimidating dawn raids on newspaper executives’ homes, to stop all contacts between journalists and the police apart from those sanctioned by senior officers."

The Mail adds: "Let it be said loud and clear: the police need the Press and the Press need the police if Britain is to have faith in the way we deal with crime in this country.

"We repeat. Intercepting voicemails (itself exposed by a newspaper) and improper payments to public servants are criminal acts, which should be properly investigated.

"But if the free Press is silenced, corruption and incompetence will be the only winners."

Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn also joins the attack claiming: "Gestapo tactics are being used by police investigating alleged illegal practices by journalists working for News International."

He adds: "No one arrested over the past few weeks has been charged with any offence. Yet they are being treated worse than terrorist suspects, subjected to draconian bail conditions and have had their lives and distinguished careers put on hold."

Littlejohn asks: "Why is it that senior executives at News International, such as former chief executive Rebekah Brooks, are allowed to attend police stations by appointment to be questioned, yet lowly foot soldiers are rounded up from their homes like violent armed robbers or drug dealers?"

He claims: "The Establishment has declared war on the Press and by extension our very democracy. They want to stifle criticism and suppress stories about wrongdoing in public office.
If the politicians can shackle popular newspapers they are far less likely to be called to account for their actions."

Littlejohn concludes: "It used to be said that Britain may not be the best country to live in, but it was the best country to go to sleep in.

"Not when you’re being dragged out of bed by the Scotland Yard Stasi, it isn’t."
  • Steve Richards in the Independent today argues that no journalist is above the law. "If a politician is in trouble, or a trade union leader out of control, the likes of [Trevor] Kavanagh and his newspaper are on to them. There is no room for nuance or qualification, no paragraph acknowledging that perhaps an embattled minister was trying to do the right thing but ended up in a mess. Some journalists, newspapers and police officers are now in a mess. Making sure they obey the law and face the consequences of not doing so is not the same as an assault on press freedom."

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