BBC chief slams police demands
British journalism is going through a “dangerous period”, the director-general of the BBC said as he warned of the “disturbing trend” for police forces to demand journalistic sources and materials.
At an International Press Institute conference in Taiwan, Mark Thompson also cautioned against State regulation of the Press following the Leveson Inquiry, warning that it could inhibit investigative journalism and even allow “wrongdoers to escape journalistic exposure”.
Mr Thompson was especially critical of the recent treatment of news organisations by the police, referring to Scotland Yard's use of a production order under the Official Secrets Act in an attempt to force The Guardian to reveal sources on the phone hacking story.
The PSNI has also used production orders in an attempt to force the media here to hand over footage from riots this summer.
“This production order is part of a wider, and in my view disturbing trend, for police forces in many parts of the UK routinely to demand that journalists disclose sources and hand over journal- istic materials,” he said.
“The police often find themselves with a conflict of interest when weighing the independence of the media with their own priorities as they conduct investigations. Sometimes that conflict leads to faulty and dangerous actions,” he said.