The Great Debate UK
-Nicholas Jones is the author of Trading Information: Leaks, Lies and Tip-offs (Politico’s, 2006). He is a member of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom. The opinions expressed are his own.-
When searching for news and checking facts reporters often have to bend the rules and possibly break the law. But through its purchase of confidential mobile phone messages the “News of the World” has blackened the reputation of British journalism.
In a true democracy journalists have to be free to investigate without the constant fear of falling foul of the state or of being hounded by the police and the courts. Indeed principled journalists are ready to go to jail rather than reveal their sources.
But there is a huge difference between a justified breach of personal privacy in support of investigative journalism and a blatant fishing trip for private and confidential information.
Whatever reservations there might be over the way the leaked information was obtained, the publication of hitherto secret details about the endemic abuse of MPs’ expenses was without doubt in the public interest.