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20/09/2011

BECTU Defies Met Demands Over Sources

The broadcast union BECTU has expressed its support for the Guardian newspaper and the journalists' union, the NUJ as they work to "defend journalists' rights in the face of an attack by the Metropolitan (Met) Police Service".
The move comes after the Met used the Official Secrets Act to force Guardian journalists to reveal their sources in connection with the News International hacking scandal.
Amid news that the family of murdered Milly Dowler have today been made a £3m offer by Rupert Murdoch's News International in an attempt to settle that phone-hacking case, the Guardian has vowed to fight the separate Met action.
The NUJ has also insisted that it will do all in its power to defeat efforts by the Met to undermine journalists' rights to protect their sources as a 'cornerstone of press freedom'
"BECTU, whose members includes many staff and freelances involved in newsgathering, emphasises its support for the established rights of journalists to protect their sources. They carry out vital investigative work in the public interest and this should not be impeded," said an official BECTU statement on the organisation's website.
The BECTU coverage also noted that the Press Gazette online had quoted Michele Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary as saying that the Met's court order was a "very serious threat to journalists".
Ms Stanistreet is also reported to have said: "Attempts to confiscate information provided by sources violates the freedom of the press and damages the preconditions of an open and democratic society.
"The protection of sources is an essential principle which has been repeatedly reaffirmed by the European Court of Human Rights as the cornerstone of press freedom and the NUJ shall defend it.
"In 2007 a judge made it clear that journalists and their sources are protected under article 10 of the Human Rights Act and it applies to leaked material. The use of the Official Secrets Act is a disgraceful attempt to get round this existing judgement."
Commenting on the developments, BECTU General Secretary Gerry Morrissey said: "The actions taken by the Met in the last few days are unprecedented and they will do nothing to restore faith in the organisation whose relationship with the Murdoch press is rightly under intense scrutiny."
The Murdoch settlement is understood to include a personal £1m donation to charity by Murdoch himself as well as contributions to the family's legal costs.
The case led to the closure of the News of the World.
(BMcC/GK)
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