Keith Vaz expects to have more success than Press Gazette in persuading police to reveal RIPA use - Press Gazette

Keith Vaz expects to have more success than Press Gazette in persuading police to reveal RIPA use

The chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee has said he expects police forces to be more transparent with him over use of RIPA than they have been with Press Gazette

Labour MP Keith Vaz has asked every police force in the UK to provide him with details of the use of RIPA, with a breakdown of when it has been used against journalists.

He made his request after Press Gazette asked all police forces to reveal the number of times RIPA has been used to obtain journalists' phone records.

So far, 22 forces have rejected the request on cost grounds – with many saying the information is not easily "retrievable" – and 12 have declined to say whether they hold the records, citing "national security" concerns. The Ministry of Defence police force has responded to say that it does hold information but is conducting an internal public interest test on whether to reveal it.

Press Gazette is awaited responses from 12 other forces, with today marking the 20-day deadline for an FoI answer.

Asked if he expects to have more luck than Press Gazette with his request for information, Vaz told the Media Show: "Well, I hope very much they would want to co-operate with Parliament – that's what the purpose of Parliament is in inquiries of this kind.

"To be fair to them, the letter has just gone out, but I would expect more than a 'no'.

"And I was surprised to hear from former chief constable Trotter when he said this information is readily available and the police want to be transparent.

"Goodness me, I think there are classic examples of people writing to the police force and getting a response which says sorry, we can't tell you this because it's not in the national interest or are files are not closed on it."

Asked if he believes journalists should have a specific exemption in RIPA, Vaz said: "I think that's a matter for debate. I think that the age-old principle and concept that sources are to be confidential – even the select committee would not expect a journalist to reveal its sources. We never have done and we never will."



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