5.2.04

Policing Sources

As reported by MediaBeak (see MB 26th Jan below), the media should continue to fight for its right to preserve the anonymity of its sources. This does however become complicated when the source comes from inside the police. The Met set up Operation Glade to police its own police and those who were leaking information to the press. This was in response to concerns that the press and wider media were obtaining information via private investigators.

The fact that the media receive tip-offs or information about people is nothing new but with increasing amounts of money being traded for such secrets the authorities are clamping down on this ethically questionable trade.

This week has seen four men charged with offences related to passing on police information. The case could open up a can of worms as previous investigations have never resulted in any specific legal sanction. The difficulty when you factor in payment is that the public interest angle gets distorted. Getting information from inside the force about matters of serious public concern such as illegality or corruption is desirable. The problem arises when the practice of so doing is itself seen as corrupt. Paying police high prices for stories could in the end cost the higher price of the legal measures to prevent such practices.

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