The Newspaper Society has backed Press Gazette’s Save Our Sources campaign against public authorities' use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to spy on journalists without external oversight.
The Met Police used RIPA to secretly obtain the phone records of The Sun and of the paper's political editor in order to find and punish three officers accused of leaking information about the Plebgate affair. The Met, and other public authorities, have so far refused to reveal how many more times RIPA has been used to expose lawful journalistic sources.
A Newspaper Society spokesman said: “The protection of confidential sources is a vital component of public interest journalism. Journalists rely upon being able to guarantee whistleblowers’ anonymity in order to expose wrongdoing.
"Anything that threatens this guarantee – such as use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act by public authorities to identify journalists’ confidential sources – constitutes a fundamental attack on press freedom and must be opposed.”
The Newspaper Society is a trade body representing around 1,000 local newspapers in the UK.