Left Menu
Development News Edition

British police under fire for media leaks warning

PTI | Wyboston | Updated: 13-07-2019 22:27 IST | Created: 13-07-2019 22:24 IST
British police under fire for media leaks warning
Image Credit: Wikimedia

British police drew criticism on Saturday for a warning to journalists during a probe into a leak that led to the resignation of the ambassador to Washington. Neil Basu, the assistant commissioner of London's Metropolitan Police, had advised media outlets "not to publish leaked government documents", saying to do so "may be a criminal matter".

The warning came as police announced they were investigating the leak of diplomatic reports from Britain's ambassador to Washington Kim Darroch, which prompted outrage from President Donald Trump and forced the envoy to quit. Boris Johnson, the favorite to take over as Britain's new prime minister this month, said prosecuting media outlets would have "a chilling effect on the public debate".

Johnson, himself a journalist and former editor, said the Darroch leaks were "embarrassing but it is not a threat to national security". "It is the duty of media organizations to bring new and interesting facts into the public domain," he said while campaigning for the leadership of the ruling Conservatives.

Fellow Conservative MP Bob Seely, who sits on parliament's foreign affairs committee, also said the police should "think again about that". Tim Shipman, a senior journalist at the Sunday Times newspaper known for his political scoops, said the police statement was "sinister, absurd, anti-democratic".

"Do you have any comprehension of a free society? This isn't Russia," he asked the Metropolitan Police on Twitter. However, former defense minister Michael Fallon said journalists receiving stolen material "should give it back to their rightful owner".

"They should also be aware of the huge damage that has already been done and the potentially even greater damage to be done by further breaches of the Official Secrets Act," he said.

The Darroch leaks were published by the Mail on Sunday newspaper last weekend, and officials are braced for more revelations this Sunday. The Foreign Office launched an investigation into how the documents were made public, but the police investigation raises the stakes.

Basu insisted Saturday the police had "no intention of seeking to prevent editors from publishing stories in the public interest". He said the focus of the police investigation was identifying who leaked the documents.

"However, we have also been told the publication of these specific documents -- now knowing they may be a breach of the Official Secrets Act -- could also constitute a criminal offense and one that carries no public interest defense," he said. "We know these documents and potentially others remain in circulation.

"We have a duty to prevent as well as detect crime and the previous statement was intended to alert to the risk of breaching the Official Secrets Act."



How UK’s 'best prepared' healthcare system failed to gauge COVID-19

The UK is proud of their public health system and its unlike any other country as around 90 percent of British public supports the founding principles of National Health Service. But without accurate data being available to stakeholders in ...

Poor on IHR capacity progress in 2019, WHO says Cambodia tops COVID-19 response

Despite being in proximity to Hubei, the original epicenter of COVID-19 pandemic, Cambodia has reported just 226 confirmed cases and zero deaths. After seeing the data, WHO appreciated Cambodias healthcare information system but experts dou...

Loopholes in Healthcare Information System may have failed Singapore COVID-19 model

In the initial days of the COVID-19 outbreak, Singapore was in the limelight for its effective healthcare system and pandemic response plan. However, Singapore has now joined the list of the worst-hit nations and the situation is even worse...

Australia's COVID-19 response: Digital infrastructure of help but implementation remains a challenge

Australias ongoing plans to upgrade its health information system helped by the Digital Health Strategy seem even more practical due to the pandemic. But as evident during the pandemic, administrative lapses and the complex matrix of power ...


Latest News

Grizzlies F Jackson (knee) out for season

Memphis Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson Jr., the teams second-leading scorer, will miss the remainder of the season with torn meniscus in his left knee, the team announced Tuesday. In Mondays game against the Pelicans, Jaren Jackson Jr. exp...

Maple Leafs rebound to even series vs. Blue Jackets

Auston Matthews scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period and the Toronto Maple Leafs went on to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0 on Tuesday afternoon at Toronto. Frederik Andersen stopped 21 shots to earn his third career play...

Trump: Massive explosion in Beirut was likely an 'attack'

President Donald Trump said U.S. military generals have told him that they think the massive explosion that rocked Beirut on Tuesday, killing more than 70 people, was likely a bombIve met with some of our great generals and they just seem t...

Technical issue has California under-reporting virus cases

A technical problem has caused a lag in Californias tally of coronavirus test results, casting doubt on the accuracy of recent data showing improvements in the infection rate and number of positive cases, and hindering efforts to track the ...

Give Feedback