Boris Johnson stated he doesn’t “for one minute” suppose a authorities assessment of the Official Secrets and techniques Act would cease the press from finishing up investigations or result in prosecutions of journalists.
Fears have been raised that modifications to the UK’s Official Secrets and techniques Act proposed by his authorities may see investigative journalists classed as spies and presumably even jailed.
However the prime minister insisted the assessment wouldn’t “interrupt the conventional course of” of the media utilizing confidential sources.
Requested on LBC if he had considerations that journalists may face jail phrases beneath the potential reforms, Mr Johnson stated: “This isn’t what we need to do in any respect.”
The prime minister added: “I don’t need to have a world through which individuals are prosecuted for … doing what they suppose is their public obligation.”
A Residence Workplace session over modifications to the Official Secrets and techniques has prompt that journalists within the UK could possibly be handled in the identical approach as these leaking info and people committing espionage offences.
It has additionally thought-about whether or not most sentences for violation of the act ought to be elevated from two to 14 years.
Mr Johnson prompt any modifications to the act can be designed to cease “stuff” that might injury nationwide safety. However he denied that the assessment was geared toward going after confidential sources for public curiosity investigations.
“You understand in addition to I try this a number of the very best and most essential tales, whether or not they’re Watergate or Thalidomide or no matter come from … come from tainted sources,” he advised LBC host Nick Ferrari.
“Or come from a supply that has no enterprise in placing that out into the general public area,” he added, earlier than joking: “One man’s treacherous betrayer of confidences and irresponsible leaker is one other man’s whistleblower.”
Mr Johnson stated: “Editors and journalists, on the entire, do behave with nice duty relating to stuff that they suppose shouldn’t be put into the general public area due to the injury it may do to nationwide safety or to public well being or for another purpose.”
He added: “What we need to do is make it possible for we don’t do something to interrupt the operation of excellent journalism and bringing you new and essential info into the general public area … The search mild by the British press will proceed to shine on each crevice.”
The Nationwide Union of Journalists (NUJ) has warned that proposed reforms may dilute protections for the media and make it more durable to report on nationwide safety points.
The Unbiased’s columnist Patrick Cockburn has argued that if the Residence Workplace proposals are carried out “then Britain might be nicely on the best way to becoming a member of these international locations the place the disclosure of any info damaging to the federal government is punishable”.