OSCE against Met’s attempt to force reporters to disclose sources

Ms. Dunja Mijatović, OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media

OSCE is greatly concerned about reports that the Metropolitan Police of London is seeking a court order requiring reporters to disclose confidential sources relied upon to investigate the News of the World phone-hacking scandal.

“I am concerned that, if approved by the attorney general, this attempt by the Metropolitan Police to apply the Official Secrets Act could create a precedent with a chilling effect on investigative journalism and could impede media freedom,” said Dunja Mijatović, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.

Ms. Mijatović has put her concerns in writing in a letter to Foreign Secretary William Hague. According to The Guardian, the Metropolitan Police is seeking a court order under the 1989 Official Secrets Act to force journalists Amelia Hill and Nick Davies to disclose confidential sources used to write several stories published in July 2011 regarding the scandal.

“The right of journalists to protect the identity of their confidential sources has been repeatedly declared a basic requirement for freedom of expression by the OSCE,” Ms. Mijatović wrote. “The European Court of Human Rights in its case law makes it clear that the potentially chilling effect of such an order is not compatible with Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights unless justified by an overriding requirement in the public interest.”

Ms. Mijatović stressed that “The Guardian’s investigation in the phone-hacking scandal has been recognized to be of significant interest to the public.”

She called on the UK Government to ask the Metropolitan Police to drop this attempt to force the journalists to reveal their sources.