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Press Freedom in the UK, Right Laws for the Right Reasons

ukflag Although the laws in the UK, alongside recent verdicts in the European Court of Human Rights, have been slow to back-peddling in protecting the privacy of those who hold prominent positions in society, especially when facing assaults by the tabloid press, a recent victory for Human Rights and investigative journalism is to be celebrated nonetheless.

Read the Full article here:

Why the David Miranda Verdict Was an Important Victory for Our Free Press   By Rosie Brighouse


Relevant edited excerpts:

Few political punch-bags take quite such a regular pummelling in the media as the Human Rights Act. But yesterday it came to the rescue of press freedom in the face of arbitrary abuse of state power – and not for the first time.

Back in 2013, David Miranda was stopped by police at Heathrow Airport under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act. He was held for nine hours and questioned for long periods without a lawyer.

His electronic equipment was confiscated – equipment that happened to be carrying encrypted journalistic material provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Miranda was helping his partner Glenn Greenwald, the first journalist to drag Snowden’s mass surveillance revelations kicking and screaming into the light, when he was detained.

For years Liberty has argued that Schedule 7 – a breathtakingly broad and intrusive power to stop, detain, question and seize without suspicion that can be used against anyone travelling to, from or through the UK – is ripe for overuse and abuse.

And yesterday, in a landmark victory for our free press, the Court of Appeal agreed with Liberty’s intervention. It ruled Schedule 7 incompatible with journalists’ right to freedom of expression, protected in British law by – guess what? – Article 10 of the Human Rights Act, because it allows the state to pry into journalists’ work without any proper safeguards.

This isn’t the first time the Act has proven a bulwark for the protection of journalistic sources against powerful interests. It’s the latest in a long line of cases.

Like the FOIA, the HRA has been responsible for exposing countless acts of state mistreatment, neglect and abuse – revelations of monumental public interest.

Without it, journalists wouldn’t have been able to establish that they should not be at risk of being detained and questioned and having precious information seized under Schedule 7 while travelling through UK airports.

Yet while newspapers of all persuasions have rightly gone out of their way to stand up for the FOIA, they’re giving the Government a much easier ride when it comes to the HRA.

Let’s be clear: plans to scrap the HRA are fuelled by exactly the same motivations as the bid to curb FOI. Like the FOIA, the Human Rights Act is one of very few pieces of legislation that allow ordinary people – including the press – to take the mighty to task.

Both Acts are crucial weapons in journalists’ legislative armoury. Both Acts are currently in the crosshairs of a Government determined to pull down the shutters and keep inconvenient truths, valid concerns and dissent at bay. The powerful don’t like giving away power.

The British press has a world-envied tradition of first-class investigatory journalism, of asking difficult questions, of seeing past the spin to hold the powerful to account. Let’s hope they uphold that proud tradition as they report on the battle to save the HRA in coming months.

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