Police appear to have declared war on journalists

Police covertly accessed a journalist’s Plebgate phone records on Andrew Mitchell. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty

The police appear to have declared war on journalists. If this sounds more than a little far-fetched, consider the evidence.

Case one: in September, it emerged the Metropolitan police had used the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa) in order to covertly access the mobile phone records of the Sun’s political editor, Tom Newton-Dunn. He was responsible for the controversial Plebgate story in September 2012, which alleged the then government chief whip, Andrew Mitchell, had insulted police officers at the gates of Downing Street.

Case two: in October, it was revealed that Essex police had secretly used Ripa, also in 2012, to hack into the phone records of the Mail on Sunday newsdesk in order to discover how it obtained exclusive articles about the former cabinet minister Chris Huhne. In so doing, the police outed the paper’s source and the freelance journalist, Andrew Alderson, who acted as the go-between. The police did not even keep the details of the calls and emails between Alderson and the paper’s news editor, David Dillon, to themselves; they passed them on to lawyers.

Case three: two weeks ago, six journalists announced they were taking legal action against the Met after discovering officers had been recording their activities and movements on a database that monitors “domestic extremism”. They are Jules Mattsson, a Times reporter; Mark Thomas, the comedian-cum-journalist; three photographers – Jess Hurd, David Hoffman and Adrian Arbib – and Jason Parkinson, a freelance video journalist. Parkinson was astonished to find the police had detailed his movements in 130 entries, including his attendance at demonstrations as a member of the press.

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