Category Archives: Investigative journalism

FoI now applies to homes ombudsman and others

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.

NUJ holds celebration for ethical journalism

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.

Fly-on-the-wall debt film in ‘acute public interest’

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.

Court says Minister’s diary must be made public

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

Media bodies back fight against ‘snooping’

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.

Read More:
‘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


‘Save our sources’ fight against police snooping

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.