By Dominic Ponsford
Supermodel Kate Moss has successfully demanded to see the transcript of an interview between Sun crime editor Mike Sullivan and Metropolitan Police assistant commissioner Tarique Ghaffur.
Moss’s lawyers have applied under the Freedom of Information Act to see a transcript of the interview — possibly to help the supermodel defend potential drugs charges arising from a story in the Daily Mirror. Moss’s PR handler is former Sun editor Stuart Higgins.
During the interview in question, which took place on 4 January, Ghaffur outlined to Sullivan why the Met Police wanted Moss to return to the UK to face questioning about her alleged cocaine use.
The interview was taped by a Scotland Yard press officer and formed the basis for a front page and inside spread in the following day’s Sun.
Sullivan said he was told by the Met last week that the interview transcript was being released under FoI.
He told Press Gazette: "I didn’t embarrass myself in the interview or use offensive language, but you can see real potential here for people to embarrass themselves. And this could not just be confined to crime stories — any journalists interviewing a public official could have the same problem."
Sullivan also pointed out that this precedent could enable a rival news organisation to gain access to a big interview when it involves a public official.
He added: "Very often, particularly on stories such as this, there’s a need to go off the record in terms of being given the background to something. That could be made harder if the interview is then going to be handed over.
"Police investigations are normally exempt from the Freedom of Information Act, but as I immediately published the results of this interview, they probably didn’t feel there were any grounds to reject the request."
Sullivan said he thought it was important that journalists were aware that as well as using the FoI act as a research tool, it could be turned on themselves under some circumstances.
When Press Gazette asked the Met about the Moss FoI request, we were told by the press office that they were unable to release any information about particular Freedom of Information requests.
Press Gazette has tabled a formal FoI request asking why the Sullivan interview was released. At the time of going to press we had yet to receive a response.
Moss’s spokesman Higgins said: "Harbottle & Lewis, the lawyers for Kate Moss, have served a Freedom of Information Act Notice upon the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police relating to briefings given by senior police officers to newspapers relating to Ms Moss."