A cross party group of MPs has motioned the British Parliament to deliver a set of guidelines to the police forces, emphasising the importance of press freedom and the rights of journalists. The move follows the ruling of a Northern Irish court, which concluded that the journalist Suzanne Breen was right to withhold the identity of her IRA sources from the Northern Ireland Police Service. The case was seen as a landmark for press freedom in the UK. The motion asserts that "the protection of confidential sources is internationally recognised as one of the basic principles of press freedom". It calls for a formal "reminder" of the fundamental rights of journalists, so that they can practice their profession without hindrance. It states that efforts to make a journalist reveal their information to security forces "undermine the confidence and candour with which sources will talk to journalists", which moreover, compromises the reporter's ability to question the legitimacy of authorities and hold them accountable.
The motion is backed by members from all of the main parties. It was tabled by Labour's John McDonnell (Hayes and Harlington), secretary of the National Union of Journalists' parliamentary group.
The Breen case has set a precedent for the greater protection of journalists in the UK. The defence of the right to guard the identity of one's sources, morevoer, is an essential component in the body of British legislation for the continued performance of investigative journalism in the UK.
Source: Press Gazette