Lisa O’Carroll reports in the Guardian that Police investigating the Plebgate saga obtained the telephone records of Tom Newton Dunn, the political editor of the Sun without his consent, despite laws which entitle journalists to keep their sources confidential.
The Sun confirmed that neither Newton Dunn nor the paper knew anything about the intervention of the police.
It appears that the Metropolitan Police used powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) which circumvents a different law under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (Pace) that requires police to go to a judge to get disclosure of journalistic material. The Metropolitan Police have refused to disclose how many other times they have used these powers to secretly access journalists phone records.
The incident raises concerns about the threat such activities present to journalistic privilege, confidentiality of sources and the protection of whistle-blowers.