Met Police issues harassment warning after MoS reporter sends three emails to subject of story - Press Gazette

Met Police issues harassment warning after MoS reporter sends three emails to subject of story

  • Former UKIP press officer served with order after speaking to MoS
  • Discussions related to allegations woman associated with Nigel Farage falsely accused Tory MP of sexual assault
  • Order said the woman had recieved "numerous" phone calls and emails from MoS as a result
  • Sunday Times and Independent journalists also reported this weekend to have been warned off separate UKIP story

A former UKIP press officer was served with a "Prevention of Harassment" letter by the Metropolitan Police for speaking to a Mail on Sunday journalist.

The newspaper reported last month that UKIP leader Nigel Farage was facing questions from the Met over claims that a woman alleged to be his former lover, Annabelle Fuller, falsely accused Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen of sexual assault.

Political correspondent Glen Owen called UKIP press officer Jasna Badzak about this story, which he had been told about by a different source.

Badzak was then issued with a "Prevention of Harassment" order by the Met's Detective Sergeant Gordon McKay.

This was produced on the grounds that Fuller had received "numerous phone calls and emails" from reporter Owen. He revealed in yesterday's Mail on Sunday that he sent Fuller three emails to clarify the details of his story.

The order, seen by Press Gazette, was issued because of Badzak "providing information to journalist Glen Owen of a false nature leading to victim Annabell [sic] Fuller being subjected to numerous phone calls + e-mails".

Despite the information being described as "false", The Mail on Sunday reports that police are investigating the claims.

Earlier this year, Press Gazette reported how Croydon Advertiser reporter Gareth Davies was served with a similar anti-harassment order over his investigations into a convicted fraudster. The woman he was investigating has since been convicted and sent to prison.

Badzak is reported by the newspaper to have given police details of messages exchanged between her and Fuller, who she alleges had falsely implicated MP Bridgen.

The Mail on Sunday condemned the intervention as "crossing the line".

The newspaper's editorial said: "Unwarranted state power flourishes where there is too little restraint on it. The weakening of the free press by the Leveson investigation has encouraged the police to behave in ways they would never have dreamt of before.

"Not content with employing anti-terror laws to search through journalists’ phone records, they are using anti-stalker legislation to interfere with legitimate reporting. 

"If these power-grabs succeed, we will all suffer as our society becomes less open, and scandals go unrevealed and uncorrected. 

"The public and politicians alike should recall that newspapers, for all their faults, are one of the pillars of our liberty."

The Met said: “On 1 November, police received an allegation of harassment which was looked at and the information assessed.

"On 15 November, a 43-year old woman was issued with a 1st Instance Harassment Warning.“

Also this weekend, The Times reported that journalists from The Sunday Times and Independent were emailed by a detective constable and warned against publishing articles “deemed to be untruthful and concerning” a UKIP politician. These allegations also relate to Badzak.

The Times reports that Detective Constable Tony Holden emailed reporters after they contacted MEP Gerard Batten over his alleged links to “far-right political organisations and proposed anti-Muslim policies, including banning halal meat”.

Holden warned that any articles linked to Batten’s former employee Badzak, who was waiting trial for fraud at the time, “may result in further arrests being made”. He copied in Batten’s personal email and asked that the journalists “thoroughly check the sources of the information, prior to contacting either Mr Batten or going to press”.

Badzak was convicted of fraud in October last year after a jury found she had doctored a bank statement and borrowed £3,000 from Batten after saying she had not been paid by the European parliament.

A Met spokesman said: “On 25 April 2014, a woman made a number of complaints against MPS police officers.

“The complainant alleges that four officers and one ex-officer, committed misconduct during the course of an investigation(s).

“The complaints relate to a detective inspector, two detective sergeants and two detective constables.

“The matter is currently being investigated by the Directorate of Professional Standards.

“The investigation continues.”

Former Conservative MP Louise Mensch is understood to have submitted two criminal complaints to the Met over the alleged conduct of officers in these cases.



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