Protection of journalists’ sources should be 'statutory right’

16th November 2016

Press Gazette contacted PCaW as the UK’s leading experts on whistleblowing to comment on an Operation Elveden story which gave us the opportunity to call for the protection of sources to be made statutory.

PCaW Chief Executive Cathy James, OBE, told Press Gazette, "Operation Elveden marked a low point in the protection of journalist sources in the UK. While the practice of selling public interest information is not something we would condone, the culture in so many newsrooms in the past was such that this was entirely acceptable.

‘’Those invited to trade information for cash were in all likelihood also told that they would be a protected source and that their identity would remain confidential. This promise was broken without reference to the impact this would have on the trust we all place on journalists and the media.
She added, ‘’It's high time the Government put this high on the agenda and made protection of journalist sources a statutory right.''

The call comes after Press Gazette named for the first time all the sources convicted after News Corp and Trinity Mirror shared emails with police detailing payments made by their companies to public officials. Some 34 journalists were arrested and/or charged on suspicion of making payments to public officials. But no convictions of journalists were secured by police at trial after courts ruled that none of the disclosures harmed the public interest