Government seeking way to exempt journalists from proposed changes to PACE

Minister for Government policy Oliver Letwin is looking at ways to exempt journalism from a clause in the Deregulation Bill which would make it easier for police to seize evidence under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

Speaking in a House of Commons debate on the Bill, Letwin said the Government would consult on the changes – which could stop the need for police notification and a hearing in advance of a police seizure of journalistic material under PACE.

The Newspaper Society reports that Lewin is to meet with them next week and discuss ways to exempt journalism from the clause.

He said: “In the case that the media are concerned about, a production order would be used to ask a media organisation to produce some piece of information it holds.

“Those media organisations were worried that they would no longer have the guarantee of their day in court to contest such a production order, because the effect of clause 47 would be to replace the need for the existence of primary legislation governing inter partes rules with the criminal procedure rules committee.

“The media were afraid that the criminal procedure rules committee might in some way weaken the inter partes rules. I have good news for my hon. Friend and his Committee, and indeed for the media organisations—which, incidentally, I have offered to meet later in the week or next week.

“As it was no part of the intention of clause 47 to do that, we are now looking for ways specifically to exempt journalism and all such media items from the clause. If I may, I would like to discuss with him and his Committee the precise drafting of that change, so that we can be sure that the media organisations themselves and the select committee are content with the changes we make.”

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