Shiv Malik, the investigative journalist at the centre of a legal battle with Greater Manchester Police to make him hand over his notes under the Terrorism Act, will find out next month whether he has been successful.
A two-day judicial review hearing, brought by Malik to challenge the order, ended in the High Court yesterday.
Greater Manchester Police want Malik’s notes and taped interviews with terror suspect Hassan Butt, who was released without charge on Wednesday afternoon but is still said to be the object of police interest. Butt had been held in custody for nearly two weeks after being arrested attempting to board a flight to Pakistan at Manchester Airport.
James Eadie QC, representing Malik, yesterday sought to get the order thrown out by saying that it was too broad and would lead to the revelation of details not just about Butt – but also of other sources.
‘In relation to an order of this kind, you cannot simply say you do not want to talk about the terms of the order because the judge intended something different,’he told the court.
‘[The order] has to be crystal clear and limited as is accepted. There is an implicit acceptance that it is considerably broader than it was originally intended and it must fall. Where do you draw the line?”
Representing the police, Andrew Edis QC had said earlier that the police were only seeking material in relation to Butt.
He said: ‘Now there is an argument being made that there are multiple sourcesâ€¦ it is said that [disclosure of] material even related to Mr Butt would be a violation of Article 10 (of the Human Rights Act, Freedom of Expression) because he wants to be able to talkâ€¦not only Hassan Butt but to others who may divulge information which he would use in his valuable journalistic investigations. That argument is, to my knowledge, unsupported.”
Lord Justice Dyson asked Eadie to write a draft production order under the Terrorism Act with the “bare minimum” disclosure as a possible alternative for judges to consider.
He said it was possible that the panel of three judges would choose to grant a more narrowly-drafted order instead of rejecting or granting the one applied for by the police.
The court heard that police became interested in Butt after he was implicated in interviews by a man charged with terror offences known only as ‘A”, who faces trial in September and cannot be named due to a reporting restriction.
Butt is credited as a co-author on Malik’s forthcoming book, Leaving al-Qaeda, which is being published by Constable & Robinson. The publishers handed police an early manuscript of the book last month after being served with a production order. Edis asked the court for an order under the Contempt of Court Act postponing the publication of Malik’s while the trial of ‘A’is still be underway.
Greater Manchester Police suspect Malik’s unpublished notes contain admissions by Butt that he took part in terrorist training and opertations, including a fertiliser bomb attack at the US Consulate in Karachi in 2002 which killed 11 people, the court heard.
Malik’s case is being funded jointly by the National Union of Journalists and the Sunday Times, for which he wrote several articles on terrorism. That paper, along with CBS News, Prospect magazine and the BBC are all subject to similar orders and will oppose them at a hearing in Manchester due to take place after the judgment from this week’s judicial review hearing has been handed down.