NMA To Meet Law Commission Over Search Warrant Law Proposals

The News Media Association will be meeting the Law Commission to discuss the potential impact upon the media of its new proposals for modernisation of the laws around search warrants.

This will include their potential interaction with the Law Commission’s proposals for tougher laws for the protection of official data, which threaten the media and its sources.

The Law Commission does suggest that the law should be changed to put in place more protections for individuals’ rights. Its consultation paper, published on Tuesday, proposes exemption of confidential journalistic material from searches under warrant, where this is currently but exceptionally still possible under the PACE regime.

Other modifications of the PACE regime for confidential and non-confidential journalistic material are also proposed.  However, the Law Commission also asks whether material held for a criminal purpose should be excluded from the PACE journalistic protections, through alterations to the definitions of protected journalistic material.  

Such changes could be open to abuse and exploitation, as a means of bypass of the PACE journalistic protections, especially if combined with the Law Commission’s consultative proposals for tightening the criminal law on obtaining, receipt and disclosure of leaked information. The NMA will be responding to the consultation, following consideration of the proposals and discussion with the Law Commission.