Police should not use eavesdropping powers to interfere with the work of journalists, former home secretary David Blunkett (pictured, Reuters) – who first implemented the measures – has told an influential parliamentary committee.
The need for an overhaul of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act was “obvious”, said Blunkett.
The chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission told the same committee that the legislation was “time-expired” and should be replaced.
The recent furore over police accessing journalists’ phone records has sparked widespread calls for urgent reform of the act, which dates back to 2000 and allows officers to request call data from phone companies without a judge’s approval.
Justice minister Simon Hughes last weekend promised reform to prevent the “entirely inappropriate” use of surveillance powers to target reporters’ sources.
Blunkett told the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee: “RIPA should not be used to interfere with the normal activities of the journalistic profession.”
The act was intended to “regulate and confine” police investigations rather than to open up new avenues for inquiry, said the former Labour minister, adding: “I think we need to get back to that.”