Eamonn Holmes opened a TV report by saying, “Should pet shock collars be banned? We think so.” The following piece continued to present a one-sided picture, in breach of the requirement for impartiality, found Ofcom. Read its report here (page 6)
The requirement to respond to requests under the Freedom of Information Act has been extended to the Housing Ombudsman, the Surveillance Camera Commission and several other bodies. See the full list of new entries here (scroll down a short way).
For information about all types of organisation subject to the act, click on the FoI wiki.
The National Union of Journalists chose Valentine’s Day to celebrate independent, ethical journalism, prompted by memories of a broadcasters’ strike in 1985 that prompted the BBC management to resist attempts to stop it broadcasting a Real Lives programme about Northern Ireland. Journalism academic Tony Harcup commented on the NUJ website about the importance of ethical journalism for society. Read more.
An episode of the Channel 5 programme Can’t pay? We’ll take it away was found by Ofcom not to have breached the privacy of a person in a public-facing role who was filmed when a building was entered so goods could be seized from a debtor. Respect for privacy was balanced against the right to freedom of expression and whether the programme contributed to a debate on a matter of general interest. Ofcom agreed that the enforcement of a court writ was not private, and that there was acute public interest in the activities of the people enforcing it. Covert filming did not necessarily breach privacy. Read more from page 20 of the Ofcom broadcast bulletin (December 2017), here.
A reporter’s battle to see the diary of former Health Secretary Andrew Lansley went all the way to the Court of Appeal – which ordered the government to reveal nearly all of it. It covered the period when the minister was working on a major shake-up of the NHS. The case highlights several reasons why Freedom of Information is considered important to journalism and the public interest. Read more
An online tool launched in June 2017 charts attacks on press freedom, across the European Union and associated countries. They include a cyber attack on an investigative website in Leicester, and a ban on local media attending Swindon Town Football Club press conferences. Find it here.
The government promised to make no changes to Freedom of Information law after a review found it was working well. Journalists mounted a campaign against feared restrictions; top universities and local government complained that it was too big a burden. Read more
Editors, media organisations, a lawyer and a former police chief have supported Press Gazette’s Save Our Sources campaign, launched after the Metropolitan Police used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to search The Sun’s phone records in secret.
‘Police are trying to criminalise whistle-blowers’ – petition update
Met Police ‘does not keep records’ of secret searches
Newspaper Society calls RIPA snooping ‘attack on press freedom’
Former police chief backs Save Our Sources campaign
Boris Johnson questioned over secret phones search
Chartered Institue of Journalists backs anti-snoop campaign
QC says use of RIPA for search is breach of human rights
Sun and Guardian editors and NUJ chief back campaign
Hacking reporter Nick Davis says journalists should ask RIPA tribunal if police have spied on them
Prosecutors dropped a criminal case that arose from an investigation by the undercover reporter Mazher Mahmood, who had been suspended by The Sun over the collapsed Tulisa trial (Press Gazette). Read more
Press Gazette launched a campaign to protect news sources after revelations that the police considered it legal to secretly obtain journalists’ phone records. It said it breached the right to freedom of expression, which included the right to protect sources (September 2014). Read more
Nick Davies, who exposed phone hacking, said police should have gone before a judge to justify examining a Sun journalist’s phone records. He said journalists targeted by public authorities should check whether their records had been snooped on. Read more
Note: this story was uploaded to Media Law Matters before the implementation of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation directive, which toughens up data protection law, from May 2018.