NUJ calls on Government to provide detail on how Save Our Sources law will work

The National Union of Journalists has called on the Government to provide detail on how it will stop police forces accessing journalists' phone records without judicial approval under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

On Friday, Press Gazette declared victory in the Save Our Sources campaign when it emerged that the Government is to rush through interim measures to stop police viewing journalists' phone records without the oversight of a judge.

The Liberal Democrats had tabled an amendment to the Serious Crime Bill to be heard today in the House of Commons to that effect.

The Government rejected it, but instead promised to rush through measures to curb police spying on journalists ahead of the May general election. And it said primary legislation to tackle the issue will be tabled soon in the next Parliament.

The NUJ, which has strongly backed the Save Our Sources campaign, has welcomed the proposal, but said the "devil will be in the detail".

Specifically, the NUJ has pointed out that the Government has not specifically committed to saying that journalists should be informed prior to authorities accessing their phone records.

A statement said: "The NUJ therefore wants to know if the interim guidelines will ensure the journalist is notified, in advance, of the application to request their communications? Will a media organisation or individual journalist have the ability to challenge the application or appeal? At this stage no one knows because the details have not been published. The union wants to see the specifics contained in the interim guidelines as promised."

Chris Frost, chair of the NUJ ethics council, said: “We welcome proposed changes to stop using RIPA to spy on journalists – we are very pleased everyone now agrees on this principle but as always the devil will be in the detail and so we urge the government to provide that detail now and then allow for a full and proper democratic debate amongst politicians, industry and civil society about the changes they intend to propose."

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