Proposed legislation that could see journalists and whistleblowers sentenced up to 14 years for leaking official documents has no place in a democracy.
The proposals were drawn up by the Law Commission as part of a review of the Official Secrets Act and would cover any data that affects the UK’s national and international interests, including economic interests. The public’s right to know about the Brexit negotiations, for instance, could be put into jeopardy if these proposals were brought into force.
A media that is free to expose corruption and wrongdoing in public bodies is essential for a healthy democracy. These proposals are a fresh body blow to public interest journalism in this country and Index will be making our absolute opposition clear in the consultation on these documents that have been so belatedly offered.
As Index CEO Jodie Ginsberg told The Telegraph: “It is unthinkable that whistle blowers and those to whom they reveal their information should face jail for leaking and receiving information that is in the public interest. It is shocking that so few organisations were consulted on these proposed changes.”