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July 13, 2015

Former DPP calls for new law to protect public interest journalism from prosecution

By Dominic Ponsford

Former Director of Public Prosecutions Sir Keir Starmer has called for a new law to protect journalists from being prosecuted if they are acting in the public interest.

Guidelines brought in by Starmer, now a Labour MP, were adopted by the Crown Prosecution Service in 2012 and were supposed protect public interest journalism from prosecution.

But since then the Crown Prosecution Service has brought prosecutions against 16 journalists who were found not guilty at trial.

In April, the CPS scrapped nine outstanding prosecutions against journalists who were set to face trial in the light of a Court of Appeal judgment.

The Court of Appeal has quashed two convictions of journalists accused of paying public officials for stories: those of former News of the World reporters Ryan Sabey and Lucy Panton.

According to The Times, Starmer will use a speech today to call for a “clear law offering journalists protection”.

Starmer is taking part a panel discussion being held in London tonight on the question: Do we have a free press?

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Starmer will be joined by Trevor Kavanagh of The Sun  (who has been a fierce critic of the Crown Prosecution Service), chief executive of Index on Censorshop Jodie Ginsberg, Yougov president Peter Kellner and BBC Media Show host Steve Hewlett.

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