NMA Backs Press Gazette’s Save Our Sources Petition

The News Media Association has given its support to a petition launched by Press Gazette calling for greater protections for journalists’ sources in the Investigatory Powers Bill.

The petition, which will be delivered to Home Secretary Amber Rudd, says that all state agencies’ requests to use these powers in relation to journalistic activities should be decided by a judge, with “a presumptive right for the media to make representations, so that the judge knows the counterarguments.”

“We also ask that more stringent tests be set out in the Bill with full weight given to the public interest in freedom of expression and protection of sources,” the petition adds.

The NMA maintains that further comprehensive and robust safeguards are vital so that investigative journalism is not undermined by the legislation. 

In a debate at Committee stage last week members of the House of Lords from all the main political parties called on the government to introduce robust safeguards to the Bill, saying that the ability to protect sources could be a “matter of life and death” in some cases.

Speaking in the debate, Lord Black of Brentwood highlighted the issue of judicial safeguards. “It is all very well having judicial safeguards in place, but they will not work unless the judicial commissioner assessing the application has all the relevant information before applying his or her judgment and making an informed decision,” Lord Black said.

“After all, how can a judicial commissioner possibly know what they do not know? That is almost Kafkaesque.”