Freedom of the Press (1)

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 26th September 2019.

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Photo of Peter Whittle Peter Whittle Brexit Alliance

The British ambassador to the United States, Sir Kim Darroch resigned his post on 10 July 2019, saying his position had become ‘impossible’ following the leak of diplomatic cables in which he described Donald Trump’s White House as ‘inept’ and ‘dysfunctional’. On 12 July 2019 Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu issued a statement, warning that any newspaper contemplating publishing leaked documents of any sort may find itself facing a criminal investigation. Given that Fleet Street editors are not usually signatories to the Official Secrets Act, this statement appears to be an act of naked intimidation of our free press. Mr Basu subsequently backed down, stating that the Metropolitan Police has ‘no intention of seeking to prevent editors from publishing stories in the public interest’. But the original threat still stands. I am very surprised to learn that Basu thinks it’s his job to tell Fleet Street what it can and can't publish. Was his statement cleared by the Commissioner?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

The MPS informs me that Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu did not discuss this with the Commissioner before its publication.