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NMA calls for public interest journalism to be protected in Official Secrets Act reform

Sweeping reforms could criminalise public interest journalism by exposing journalists and whistle-blowers to harsh new penalties, the NMA said today.

Responding to a Home Office consultation on legislation to counter state threats, the NMA also warned proposals for stiffer sentences and widening the scope of the law could “open the floodgates” on the prosecution of the media and its sources, despite acting in the public interest. 

The association calls for a public interest defence to be introduced to protect freedom of speech, as well as a Statutory Commissioner to provide “swift redress” for whistle-blowers caught by the Official Secrets Act.

The NMA’s legal policy and regulatory affairs director Sayra Tekin condemned the proposals, saying: “As part of any thriving democracy, the public and a responsible press must be free to shed light on the state’s injustices. 

“The proposed measures will deter whistle-blowers from coming forward with vital information which the public have a right to know and place a chill on investigative journalism which holds power to account.” 

Read more here

22/07/21

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