The report by Interception of Communications Commissioner (IOCCO) Sir Anthony May into police use of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act to trace journalists’ sources was a remarkable success for the industry campaign led by Press Gazette and now the task in Scotland is to make sure the central recommendation is applicable here.
Sir Paul could not be clearer when he said that: “Judicial authorisation must be obtained in cases where communications data is sought to determine the source of journalistic information.”
The report has been accepted by both Prime Minster David Cameron and Home Secretary Theresa May, with the Prime Minister’s official spokesman saying: “He believes that the report makes the case well for the judicial oversight it recommends in cases of data comms applications that are relevant to journalistic sources, and that is why the Government is accepting that recommendation.”
On his LBC radio phone in, deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the Serious Crime Bill, just about to complete its passage through Westminster, would be amended to make sure Sir Paul’s recommendation is legally enforceable.
The Serious Crime Bill contains several clauses directly relating to Scotland, so ensuring the new amendment is applicable here should not present any difficulty.
A recent letter to Scottish Justice Secretary Michael Matheson received a positive response, with Mr Matheson saying he believed such use of RIPA needed to be “shown to be necessary and proportionate.”
The SNS will therefore be in contact with both the UK and Scottish Governments to ensure there is a consistent approach on both sides of the Border.
Read SNS director John McLellan’s previous blog on RIPA here.