The Filkin recommendations restricting informal police contact with journalists would stifle the sort of campaigning journalism which helped bring Stephen Lawrence’s killers to justice.
This is the claim made by Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn who today points out some of the absurditues of the Filkin Report.
As I noted yesterday, the 56-page document appears to have uncovered no new evidence of improper relationships between journalists and police officers – beyond the already well known allegations of illegal conduct involving individuals at the News of the World.
Yet that has not stopped Dame Elizabeth Filkin making a series of recommendations seeking to further restrict police contact with journalists, which have all been adopted by the Met.
…the hysteria surrounding phone-hacking at the News of the World, and the closeness of some former senior officers at Scotland Yard to News International, now threatens to incriminate the innocent and destroy the functioning of a free Press.
Outrageously, it is being insinuated openly that any contact between police officers and journalists is fundamentally corrupt and dishonest. This notion has been stoked by venal politicians agitating for revenge over Press exposure of the Parliamentary expenses scandal.
As two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers begin their jail sentences, it is worth reflecting that their convictions would never have come about had it not been for this newspaper’s brilliant campaign, which was conducted with the support and co-operation of the police.
Our crime reporters were convinced the five suspects were guilty. By sheer coincidence, in the week leading up to his decision to publish the ‘Murderers’ headline – which named all five – the Mail’s editor had lunch with a senior Scotland Yard officer, who told him words to the effect that he would stake his life on their guilt.
Under Elizabeth Filkin’s recommendations, that senior officer would be guilty of malpractice and detectives working on the case would be forbidden from sharing any information – let alone, heaven forbid, half a lager – with reporters working on a story designed to bring a gang of racist murderers to justice