The Newspaper Society, the voice of Britain’s media, which represents hundreds of newspapers and broadcast channels, said in a statement released on Friday that if the bill is passed on Monday, it will definitely endanger freedom of the press in the UK.
“Reporters are put at risk, whether reporting riot or investigating wrongdoing, if perceived to be ready sources of information for the police, and media organizations too vulnerable to police demands for journalistic material,” the statement warned.
The bill gives the police carte blanche to access journalists' information without their consent.
The Society strongly opposes the bill because "it would take away important statutory safeguards for journalistic material against unlawful seizure by the police. The bill would remove the mandatory statutory procedural safeguards …, which allow the media to have advance notice of police applications for production of journalistic material,” the statement said.
"We are alarmed that the removal of such important statutory protections of freedom of expression is put forward as a deregulatory measure," the statement noted.
Based on an order by the Metropolitan Police in November, journalists are obligated to deliver confidential information in secret courts.
In one of the relevant cases, a former officer of the UK’s Special Air Service (SAS) was charged with disclosing information to a Sky News correspondent.
A secret court ordered Sky News to hand over emails and any other related information passed between the officer and the journalist.
The High Court ruled that seeking such information in closed courts was illegal and the charges against the SAS man were later dropped.
However, London’s Metropolitan Police tries to overturn the High Court’s decision so they will be permitted in the future to compel journalists to hand over documents.