NUJ backs journalist fighting 'unprecedented' threats to press freedom

The National Union of Journalists today decided to provide financial support for a journalist who faces ‘unprecedented legal action’by police.

The union today condemned a growing culture of ‘intolerance for press freedoms’at its annual delegate meeting in Belfast.

The NUJ is backing the appeal of Shiv Malik, an investigative journalist who has been the subject of a court order under the Terrorism Act 2000.

Malik has published a series of stores relating to UK-based terror cells in The Sunday Times, New Statesman and broadcast with the BBC.

The Union said the case was unprecedented because Malik’s source has revealed his identity to the police and already volunteered to speak to them.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear said today: ‘Journalism is facing grave threats in an age of intolerance. Whilst on the streets dissent is being criminalised, independent journalism is being increasingly caught in the civil liberties clampdown.

‘This case is of enormous importance to the future of investigative journalism. The police argue that it would be in the public interest for them to obtain Shiv’s notes yet such action would fundamentally undermine the ability of journalists to do their work.”

Dear warned that the police now see journalists as ‘simply another tool of intelligence gathering”.

He also highlighted the case of Milton Keynes journalist Sally Murrer who appeared in the Crown Court in November charged with illegally obtaining police information, a charge she denied.

Dear said: ‘If [the police] win it will become a crime to report what a police officer or any other public official tells them without authorisation or, indeed, even to talk to them.

‘If the police lose it will be a victory for free reporting and independent journalism. That’s why we are offering Sally Murrer the union’s full support.”

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