As Sun condemns state's 'declaration of war' on journalists, Press Gazette FoIs reveal 60 Government leak probes

  • Press leaks revealed: Home Office – 15, Health – 16, Communities – 13, Transport – 11, International Development – 5
  • Cabinet Office refuses to answer under FoI – appeal to be taken to Information Commissioner
  • Comes as Sun condemns Commons probe into Candy Crush source

Five central Government departments have disclosed 60 press leak investigations in recent years. 

Responding to a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the Home Office revealed it has looked into 15 alleged leaks since January 2012.

And the Department for Communities and Local Government has probed 13 alleged unauthorised disclosures since 2010.

The figures emerge as The Sun today condemned an investigation by the House of Commons into the source of its revelation that a Conservative MP was playing Candy Crush during a committee meeting.

The Sun's editorial today said: "This is Britain since the Leveson Inquiry, that declaration of war on the press by the elite we are here to hold to account.

"Leveson’s biased witch-hunt empowered them to try to stop the press revealing inconvenient truths the public has a right to know.

"One MP playing Candy Crush isn’t the biggest scandal ever — and we welcome that Mr Mills had the good grace to own up and swiftly apologise.

"The authorities’ reaction, though, is of graver significance."

Press Gazette has asked 19 central Government departments how many press leak investigations they have conducted over the last ten years. They were also asked how many of those involved the police and/or the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.

The Home Office disclosed 15 leak probes: two between January and March 2012, two between April 2012 and March 2013, nine between April 2013 and March 2014 and two between April and October this year. It did not list investigations prior to 2012.

The department refused to disclose whether the police had been involved in any of the probes and did not say whether RIPA had been used as part of its investigations.

The Department for Communities and Local Government said it had conducted 13 press leak investigations since 1 January 2010.

It revealed that five were carried out in 2010, and less than five in each year since then, without detailing the figures exactly.

This department did confirm that the police and RIPA had not been involved in any of the inquiries.

The Department of Health revealed that between 1 January 2004 and 10 October 2014 it had conducted 16 press leak investigations.

On the use of RIPA and involvement of police, the response said: "The Department holds no information relevant to your request."

The Department for Transport has conducted 11 press leak inquiries over the ten-year period.

It confirmed that RIPA had not been used in any of the investigations and that there was no police involvement.

The Department for International Development has conducted five press leak investigations within the specified period.

No police forces were involved and it said not to hold any information on the use of RIPA.

The Cabinet Office has confirmed it holds the information, but has chosen not to disclose "in order to preserve the integrity and freedom of investigations conducted by public authorities".

Press Gazette asked for an internal review on the response, but the decision was upheld and an appeal will now be taken to the Information Commissioner.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions said they could not respond within FoI cost limits.

Three departments – the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Scotland Office – said they had carried out no press leak investigations over the period. Further, the Northern Ireland Office said it could not search further than April 2010, but that none had been carried out since then.

The Wales Office and Attorney General's Office said they did not hold any information relevant to the request.

Press Gazette is awaiting responses from five departments – the Ministry of Justice, Department for Environment, Food and Rural AffairsHM Treasury, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Department for Education.

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