RELEASE DATE: 3 August 2013
GOVERNMENT proposals announced this week to force-regulate private investigators may have serious spin-off implications for investigative journalism, the Chartered Institute of Journalists has warned.
Chair of the CIoJ’s Professional Practices Board, Amanda Brodie, said: “We are aware that the Home Secretary has said journalists will be excluded from regulation to allow them to carry out legitimate investigations in the public interest, but we would ask who defines what is in the public interest and what is or is not a legitimate investigation?
“Whilst there may be no overt intention to muzzle journalists, our concern is that this legislation may be used in the future to interfere with the free flow of information which should be part of any democratic society.”
This would not be the first time such legislation has had unforeseen fall-out for journalists. The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 was created to deal with stalkers, but was used in civil law against press photographers.
Ms Brodie added: “There needs to be very careful wording of any new legislation, especially where it relates to the exemption clauses concerning journalism.
“We welcome the Government’s stated intention to conduct a public consultation on the full range of data protection proposals and the CIoJ will be giving our views on their impact on journalism and how any changes might be approached.”
Note to editors:
Formed in 1884, the Chartered Institute of Journalists (CIoJ) is the world’s oldest established professional body for journalists, and a representative voice of media and communications professionals throughout the UK and the Commonwealth.