The news that a Mail on Sunday reporter was questioned about criminal voyeurism after investigating a story shows that the police will use any law to harass journalists.
With this in mind, I have prepared this list of 11 other dangerous activities.
If you don't want the 6am knock from your local constabulary, make sure you avoid:
- Washing people’s dirty linen in public. It is a common law offence to erect a washing line across a street.
- Using a pencil to take notes. If, like me, you were taught to do shorthand with a pencil, beware. You could be arrested under the Pencils and Graphic Instruments (Safety) Regulations if you did so before 1998.
- Rummaging down contacts’ dustbins. That’s what we used to do before phone hacking. But if you try it now, you could breach the EU Waste Framework Directive.
- Phoning a contact with a mobile phone. Take care. Your phone might be faulty, and put you in breach of the EU General Product Safety Directive.
- Charging up your business phone. Check that the charger is properly labelled under the EU's Energy Labelling Directive. Breach this, and it's not just your phone that will get charged.
- Going undercover to investigate elderly Chelsea FC players. Dangerous. It’s potential fraud to impersonate a Chelsea pensioner.
- Writing the headline: ‘MP gets a rocket.’ This could put you in breach of the Regulation of the Fireworks Regulations 2004.
- Going to a football club’s photocall. It’s risky if they hold it on the pitch. You could be charged with 'going onto the playing area' under s4 of the Football Offences Act 1991.
- Giving a police officer a lift. The Metropolitan Police Act 1839 makes it an offence to carry a plank along the pavement.
- Writing the lead. News hounds – beware. Article 3 of the Control of Dogs Order 1992 restricts the use of dog leads.
- Peddling your freelance work. You could be fined under Pedlars Act 1971. This law prohibits ‘selling or ordering for sale your skills in handicrafts.’
I could also warn about being arrested under counter-terrorism laws for taking photos. Or being warned under data protection legislation when covering school nativity plays.
But no-one would ever take me seriously.