Monday, December 26, 2011

While the media should not be above the law, it is important to recognize the need for a public interest defense

Leveson As research begins to hear its first test this week, the media will take a beating. Listen to the details of Milly Dowler Piracy home phone how it was useless. However, Lord Justice Leveson competition is wide and represents a unique opportunity to assess the totality of the relationship of the media with the law - not just one section or organization

Leveson, of course, emphasize that the press is not above the law. But it is also important to recognize that the media requires special protection of the law to preserve a true investigative journalism. Despite the large number of offenses that apply to the media, there is no defense of the public interest. The need for such a defense is not diminished by the fact that most of the conduct review Leveson is not within walking distance of the public interest.

Voicemail and e-mail hacking are serious crimes that led to immediate imprisonment Mulcair and Goodman. There is no public interest in these crimes - no matter how small or how large intrusion of evil exposed. Of course, hacking the phone of a victim of July 7, 2005 suicide bombings in London, it is inconceivable that wake up the public interest. But what a hack corporate email to reveal a sophisticated cover-up which seriously affect public health?

Even David Leigh - an investigative journalist if ever there was one - admitted phone hacking to try to obtain details of the corruption. But if you were pursued no defense. Like it or not, we need the media to expose the truth - after all, the existence of the investigation is largely Leveson sued the guardian of investigative journalism rather than just diligent police work. And yet, the police can relatively easily obtain permission to piracy (including communications privilege), while the media are subject to a law without exception.

Blagging to obtain private information can lead to a number of serious crimes of fraud, none of which includes no public interest. It is clear that the publication of details of the health of the son of a politician is unlikely to arouse the public interest. But what about the exposure of secret ties of a minister of an arms manufacturer with a little lie? Paradoxically, the only criminal offense that is eligible for the media and includes a public interest law on data protection of a relatively minor crime of unauthorized access to personal data. Currently, the maximum penalty is a fine, but a sincerely held belief that the data collection was of public interest is a defense.

Even the official secrets laws can be used against the press - through the controversial crime of progressive revelation of material which prevents the release detection or prosecution of crime. The offense does not require proof of the defense and damages no public interest in it.

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