‘Stop police seizing reporters’ notes’, pleads journalist

An investigative journalist found himself at odds with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) after it used the Terrorism Act 2000 to demand that he hand over the notes for his forthcoming book on Islamist extremism. Writing before Wednesday’s High Court ruling on his appeal, Shiv Malik said what was at stake here was press freedom itself. He questioned how the new terrorism laws would affect the journalists’ ability to protect sources whilst worrying over the threat of facing prosecution for withholding information from the authorities. On 19 March, officers from the GMP Counter Terrorism Unit surprised Malik with a draft production order relating to a book he is writing called Leaving Al Qaid’ah: Inside The Life And Mind Of A British Jihadist, about the life of the former Islamist radical Hassan Butt. “For legal reasons I am not allowed to state the exact nature of the order but I can say that it is wide-ranging,” he said. Malik said he received encouragement from fellow journalists such as Martin Bright from the New Statesman (who in the late Nineties had to defend himself in a similar action) to battle against the draft order. He said that while in Manchester Crown Court, he and his lawyers “discovered that, unlike the well-established provisions ingrained in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE), schedule five of the Terrorism Act 2000 significantly lowers the protections to journalists who want to maintain the confidentiality of their sources”.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=ACD43EE77CE8CFB4DF04CED4&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20News