Local paper journalist jailed for 30 hours, strip searched and threatened with life in prison

A journalist who has been accused of corrupting a police officer says her home and car were bugged and that she has been held for long stretches of time during which she was repeatedly told that she could be imprisoned for the rest of her life.

Sally Murrer, a mother of three and reporter of 32 years’ experience who works part-time for the Milton Keynes Citizen, was arrested on 8 May on suspicion of aiding and abetting misconduct in public office.

Police accused her of paying police officers for information that she had sold on to national newspapers.

‘I’ve never paid for a story in my life,’she insisted in an interview with Press Gazette.

Murrer was twice held Banbury Police Station – the first time for around 30 hours – where she says she was strip-searched and kept in unhygienic conditions without toilet paper and little soap.

She says she was confronted with tapes indicating that she had been under surveillance for months, including conversations with a policeman friend.

In a development that, if true, would have profound implications for every journalist in the UK, police told Murrer said she was told by police that they do not need to prove that any stories based on information relayed to her police source had been published – only that she had listened to materials that had been deemed sensitive.

Murrer says police repeatedly told her that she had committed a very serious offence and that she could go to prison for the rest of her life. Murrer says her professional confidence has been shattered by the experience.

Her came after police raided the offices of the Citizen and its local weekly rival, MK News, on 8 May. She must appear at Banbury Police Station again on 3 September.

Press Gazette put the points raised by Murrer to Thames Valley Police, who have declined to comment because the investigation is ongoing. In a statement, the force said: ‘The arrest and detention of suspects is strictly governed by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 and the associated Codes of Practice, which deals with the issues concerning detention, treatment and questioning of people by police officers.”

The full interview with Sally Murrer is available in this week’s Press Gazette magazine.

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