British police seek Guardian's hacking sources

17th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Police probing Britain's phone hacking scandal said Friday they were seeking a court order that would force The Guardian to disclose the sources for its reports on the affair.

London's Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) said it was "seeking to identify evidence of potential offences resulting from unauthorised leaking of information".

The Guardian newspaper's editor Alan Rusbridger condemned the move as "vindictive", adding: "We shall resist this extraordinary demand to the utmost".

The Guardian said the police intended to go before a judge at the Old Bailey in London, England's central criminal court, on September 23 to apply for an order under the Official Secrets Act 1989 requiring it to hand over documents relating to the source of information for a number of articles.

In a statement, the MPS said it had applied for a production order against The Guardian and one of its reporters "in order to seek evidence of offences connected to potential breaches relating to Misconduct in Public Office and the Official Secrets Act".

It said its investigation into phone hacking at media baron Rupert Murdoch's now-defunct News of the World tabloid was one of its most high-profile and sensitive investigations.

It therefore took concerns of leaks seriously "to ensure that the public interest is protected by ensuring there is no further potential compromise".

The MPS paid tribute to The Guardian's "unwavering determination to expose the hacking scandal", and said it recognised "the important public interest of whistle blowing and investigative reporting".

"However, neither is apparent in this case. This is an investigation into the alleged gratuitous release of information that is not in the public interest."

It insisted it was "not seeking to prevent whistle blowing or investigative journalism that is in the public interest, including The Guardian's involvement in the exposure of phone hacking."

© 2011 AFP

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