Thursday, 16 February 2012

NUJ backs Lords call for protection of journalists' sources - and says it should apply at Wapping

The NUJ has highlighted a call in the Lords Communications Committee report on the future of investigative journalism for the Government to give greater protection to whistleblowers.

The report, published today, says: "It is important for the future of responsible investigative journalism that journalists are able to offer adequate protection to their sources. We therefore call on the Government and Lord Justice Leveson to make the question of the suitable protection of whistleblowers a core part of their ongoing inquiries."

The union notes the call comes at a time when News Corps' Management and Standards Committee is accused of handing over emails to police that could identify journalists' sources.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said that “in the light of recent events at News International, where journalists have had their emails and documents handed over to the police" that she fully supported what the Lords Committee has said on whistleblowers.

Meanwhile, the Daily Mail says in a leader today: "Forget the Leveson Inquiry, the dawn raids on senior Sun journalists’ homes and the brouhaha over phone-hacking.

"British journalism has now received the most devastating blow of all. The reporter’s sacred rule is always to protect sources by refusing to identify them, whatever the duress. Newspapermen have gone to jail to uphold that trust.

"This week, as human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson pointed out, Sun owner News Corp smashed that convention, with dire implications for the public’s right to know.

"The firm’s risibly named Management and Standards Committee has disclosed the names of public sector sources to the police on the grounds that they may have been paid for their stories.

"Commendably, a Lords committee yesterday extolled the ‘vital role’ of investigative journalism in democracy.

"However, all this will come to nothing if the sources essential to good journalism fear exposure. Truly, News Corp’s MSC should hang its head in shame."

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