Lawyers acting for local press journalist Sally Murrer are set to argue that Thames Valley Police breached her human rights by bugging her.
They are hoping to get the police case against her thrown out at a pre-trial hearing at Kingston Crown Court later this month.
If they are unsuccessful Murrer faces a five-week trial on the obscure charge of ‘aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office”. Her solicitor, Louis Charalambous, told Press Gazette that this is the first time he has heard of this charge being used against a journalist.
Former policeman Mark Kearney is facing eight counts of wilful misconduct in a public office between 1 July 2006 and 9 May 2007.
Murrer, a mother-of-three and part time journalist with the Milton Keynes Citizen, has denied three charges of aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring Kearney to commit the offence.
Her defence team has already submitted a skeleton argument for the pre-trial hearing which claims that Thames Valley Police breached Article 10 of the Human Rights Act (freedom of expression) when they bugged Kearney’s car and listened to his conversations with Murrer.
The argument states: ‘The recordings of the conversations between Jonathan Mark Kearney (JMK) and Sally Anne Murrer (SAM) in JMK’s car were interferences in SAM’s Article 10 rights as a journalist. This is because they were intended to establish whether JMK was SAM’s source.
‘The measure adopted by the state to identify JMK as a source circumvented the normal procedure whereby the state/employer makes an application to a court on notice against the journalist for disclosure of the source.”
Leading the prosecution against Murrer will be former director of public prosecutions, Sir Allan Green. She is being defended by Gavin Miller and Anthony Hudson.
Kearney hit the headlines at the end of last year over his involvement with Thames Valley Police’s bugging of Labour MP Sadiq Khan while on a visit to a friend and constituent being held on terror charges at Woodhill Prison, Milton Keynes.
Murrer has previously told Press Gazette that she has been through hell since she was first arrested last May. She was locked up twice for questioning – the first time for 30 hours.
She says she has not done anything that any journalist covering crime stories does not regularly do.