SEARCH:  
Twitter Facebook RSS Feed
No Sacred Cows  
Toby Young
Monday 13th February 2012

Arresting journalists on this scale endangers press freedom


Trevor Kavanagh, associate editor of the Sun, has mounted a spirited defence of his paper today, raising some important questions about the scale of the ongoing police investigation into phone hacking and related tabloid misdemeanours. He makes the following points:

Taken together, operations Elveden, Weeting and Tuleta constitute the largest police investigation in British criminal history – larger, even, than the investigation into the Lockerbie bombing.

So many officers are involved – 171 at last count – that more important police work is being neglected. For instance, in one raid on a Sun journalist's home, two officers revealed they'd been pulled off an 11-man anti-terror squad tasked with protecting London from suicide bombers during the Olympics.

So far, 30 journalists have been arrested, many of them by over a dozen officers, though not one has yet been charged with a criminal offence, much less tried and convicted.

The arrested journalists are on open-ended police bail and have been ordered not to communicate with one another, making it virtually impossible for them to do their jobs.

Britain is now ranked 28th in the international freedom of speech league table, behind Poland, Estonia and Slovakia.

As a defender of the free press, I think any journalists guilty of criminal offences should be brought to justice, not least because it will demonstrate that the law is quite draconian enough when it comes to press misconduct without any need for statutory regulation. However, there is something needlessly heavy-handed about the treatment of the News International journalists who have been arrested so far. Is it really necessary for the police to ransack their homes in front of their families? As Trevor Kavanagh writes: "Wives and children have been humiliated as up to 20 officers at a time rip up floorboards and sift through intimate possessions, love letters and entirely private documents." Those are the sort of tactics used by the secret police to intimidate journalists in former Soviet republics and should cause serious concern to anyone in Britain who values press freedom.

It's also worrying that almost all those arrested so far are either employees or former employees of News International. What about Trinity Mirror? It creates the impression that the police investigations are partly dictated by political considerations. After all, Ed Miliband's fire has been exclusively targeted at Rupert Murdoch and his British titles, as has the Guardian's. It's as if News International has been designated the official scapegoat and, as such, the police have been granted licence to treat Sun journalists and former News of the World journalists as if they were common criminals.

No doubt some of those arrested will be charged and in due course a small number will be tried and found guilty. But we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that the vast majority of journalists employed by News International are decent, hardworking professionals who are among the best in the business. The police – and the politicians egging them on – should treat them with a bit more respect.

COMMENT | COMMENTS SO FAR: 6 [ FIXED LINK ] Bookmark and Share





Twitter Want to know what @realDonaldTrump is really like? Read @MrAlexConnock in @Spectator_LIFE on their bizarre encounte… link  (49 minutes ago)

BEST OF THE WEB

Grammars and the grain of truth by Jonathan Porter
Anti-Brexit: Britain's new class war by John O'Sullivan - nationalreview.com
The English Revolt by Robert Tombs - newstatesman.com
Democracies end when they are too democratic by Andrew Sullivan - nymag.com
Human beings really are making progress by Steven Pinker - edge.org
What ISIS really wants by Graeme Wood - theatlantic.com
A society ripe for Submission by Douglas Murray - quadrant.org.au
Beware the soft Stalinists of the campus by David Aaronovitch - thetimes.co.uk
Why I'm a Conservative Teacher by Jonathan Porter - conservativeteachers.com
Corbyn's Inconvenient Truth – He wanted the IRA to win - youtu.be
Corbyn's first seven days - theguardian.com
Corbin's cabinet chaos by Darren McCaffrey - news.sky.com
Why I've become Tory scum by Tony Parsons - gq-magazine.co.uk
Inside Westminster's free school - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn's politics are a fantasy – just like Alice in Wonderland by Tony Blair - theguardian.com
Robert Conquest obit - telegraph.co.uk
Jeremy Corbyn is not an anti-Semite – it's so much worse than that - news.stv.tv
In defence of free schools by Toby Young - standpointmag.co.uk
 

BLOGROLL

Andrew Lilico
Andrew Neil
Andrew Sullivan
Arts and Letters Daily
Bagehot's Notebook
BBC News
BBC Sport
Benedict Brogan
Brendan O'Neill
Bruce Anderson
Coffee House
Conservative Home
Damian McBride
Damian Thompson
Dan Hodges
Daniel Hannon
Ed West
Frank Furedi
Guido Fawkes
Harry Phibbs
Iain Dale
Iain Martin
James Delingpole
James Wolcott
Joe Murphy
John Rentoul
Labour List
Mark Steyn
Matt Drudge
Mehdi Hasan
Melanie Phillips
Michael Wolff
Nick Cohen
Nick Robinson
Nikki Finke
Normblog
Paul Waugh
Peter Hitchens
Political Betting
Right Minds
Rob Long
Rod Liddle
Slate
Sophy Ridge
Stephen Pollard
The Arts Desk
The Corner
The Daily Beast
The First Post
The Omnivore
The Onion
Tim Shipman
Tim Stanley
Tom Shone
 

COLUMNISTS

AA Gill
Aidan Hartley
Allison Pearson
Allister Heath
AO Scott
Boris Johnson
Charles Moore
Cosmo Landesman
Daniel Finkelstein
David Brooks
Fraser Nelson
George Monbiot
Giles Coren
Henry Winter
James Delingpole
Jan Moir
Janan Ganesh
Jeremy Clarkson
Jeremy Warner
Jim White
Jonathan Freedland
Lloyd Evans
Manohla Dargis
Martin Samuel
Mary Ann Sieghart
Matthew d'Ancona
Matthew Norman
Maureen Dowd
Michiko Kakutani
Owen Jones
Patrick O'Flynn
Paul Krugman
Peter Bradshaw
Peter Oborne
Philip Collins
Polly Toynbee
Quentin Letts
Rachel Johnson
Rod Liddle
Roy Greenslade
Tim Montgomerie
Trevor Kavanagh
 
UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • UK Book Cover

  • Buy the book on Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the book on Amazon.com


  • Audio Book Cover

  • Buy the audio book from
    Whole Story Audio
  • DVD Cover

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.co.uk

  • Buy the DVD from Amazon.com


  • IMdb Page on the film