Met Police facing further allegations of improper seizure of journalistic material with Sky News said to be target - Press Gazette

Met Police facing further allegations of improper seizure of journalistic material with Sky News said to be target

The Metropolitan Police is facing further allegations of improper seizure of journalistic material.

The force has been accused of illegally obtaining communications material, possibly under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, from a Sky News journalist.

According to The Times, the lawyer of a former SAS officer has accused the force of "unauthorised disclosure of the intercept product" in order to bolster its application for correspondence between Sky News's Sam Kiley and his sources.

Lawyer Simon McKay said that if the Met did disclose this information to a judge as part of a production order application it would be "a criminal offence".

McKay is the lawyer of an SAS officer, known as AB, who was arrested in March 2011 and accused of breaching the Official Secrets Act. The allegations were eventually dropped and he resigned, but not before the Met sought a production order from the Old Bailey.

This was initially granted, but then overturned in the High Court following a Sky News objection. The Met's appeal against this decision was then rejected in March this year.

The original hearing was held in secret without representation for the officer or Kiley. But McKay suspects intercepted material was used to aid the Met's case.

The newspaper reports that the force's application referred to "communications data that shows messages".

Communications "data" usually refers to call records that do not include content. The Met Police, for instance, accessed the communications data of Sun political editor Tom Newton Dunn under RIPA to find his Plebgate source.

McKay's letter reportedly said that the Met's application referred to messages that appeared "word for word" on Sky News broadcasts and he said they presumably came from interception.

He reportedly told the paper that intercepted material is not allowed to be used in production order applications and that if they had been communicated to the judge that would be against the law.

The paper reports him as saying: “It’s a criminal offence. [They are] committing criminal offences in order to procure an order against a journalist.”

The complaint was lodged in January and the police are yet to respond.

A Met spokesman said: "The MPS received a complaint in January 2014. The complaint has been investigated, and the complainant will be informed of the outcome in due course.

"We are not prepared to discuss the nature of the complaint."



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