Monday, May 23, 2016

British cops don't like people showing their idleness up

The journalist was making enquiries that they should have been making

Scotland Yard has revoked a harassment notice given to a reporter for quizzing a convicted fraudster – after police used taxpayers’ cash to try to justify the move.

Gareth Davies had been handed a Police Information Notice (PIN) in March 2014 while investigating Neelam Desai’s alleged involvement in a dating website scam.

The Met said his attempts to question Desai, calling at her house once and sending a polite email, ‘went beyond what was reasonable’ and the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) upheld the decision.

The chilling ‘prevention of harassment’ notice warned any attempt to talk to, or approach Desai could constitute harassment. This meant Mr Davies risked prosecution by attending Croydon Crown Court to report how she was jailed for 30 months.

MPs accused Scotland Yard of trampling on Press freedom and more than 500 people signed a petition calling for the PIN to be cancelled.

The Croydon Advertiser reporter, backed by publisher Local World, challenged the ruling and a High Court judge granted permission for a judicial review. The Met spent taxpayers’ cash fighting the case but yesterday agreed to back down.

Mr Davies said: ‘As my case has demonstrated, PINs can be used to impede responsible journalism.’

‘I behaved as journalists across the country do on a daily basis but was issued with a warning by the police, which could have appeared on my criminal record, without officers conducting any form of investigation to establish whether the allegations were true.

‘I’m glad that, in agreeing to write to the College of Policing, the Met and the IPCC have acknowledged that the use of PINs in relation to journalists needs to be reviewed. As my case has demonstrated, PINs can be used to impede responsible journalism.’

James Welch, legal director of human rights group Liberty, added: ‘The police seem to hand out harassment notices without adequate investigation or consideration of the validity of complaints. The police should be wary of discouraging good journalistic practice with these chilling warnings.’

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ‘On May 11 a decision was taken by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) to revoke, without admission of liability, the Police Information Notice (PIN), or harassment warning letter, issued on March 31, 2014.

‘The MPS also agreed to write to the College of Policing to inform them of this and request they review the national guidance.’

Original report here

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