Journalists and their sources mini-conference

From left to right: Sir Geoffrey Bindman, Suzanne Breen, Michelle Stanistreet, Mark Stephens, Jo Glanville and Bill Goodwin.
From left to right: Sir Geoffrey Bindman, Suzanne Breen, Michelle Stanistreet, Mark Stephens, Jo Glanville and Bill Goodwin.

Last night Suzanne Breen, Northern Ireland Editor of the (Dublin) Sunday Tribune, flew in to the NUJ headqaurters on Grays Inn Road to talk to members about the case being brought against her by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) under the Terrorism Act (2000) to reveal her sources in the Real IRA.

Also speaking were Bill Goodwin, the technology journalist who set an EU legal precident to protect his source in a case brought against him by Tetra. Sir Geoffary Bindman senior lawyer and founder of Bindmans solicitors. Jo Glanville from Index on Censorship and Mark Stephens media and libel specialist lawyer with Finers Stephens Innocent.

The panel were in agreement that the the security services use of of journalists as intelligence gathers by using production orders against them was unacceptable and a threat not only to press freedom but in Breens case a threat to her life if she is forced to reveal her source.

It’s worth listening to the whole audio but of particualur interest is Suzanne Breens comment on her case as well as the excellent speach by Mark Stephens on the protection of sources. In the Q & A at the end there is also a contributon by Shiv Malik, who was  served with a production order by police recently and fought through the courts to have the scope of the order greatly reduced.

The panel was led by Michelle Stanistreet, Deputy General Secretary of the NUJ and started off the session with letters of support they had recieved:

Suzanne Breen, discusses the case brought against her by the PSNI
Suzanne Breen, discusses the case brought against her by the PSNI

Next Suzanne discussed her case and how she met members of the UDA above a fish and chip shop:

Bill Goodwin on going to the EU courts
Bill Goodwin on going to the EU courts

Then Bill Goodwin talked about his case with Tetra and how they hired a writ server to wait outside his house all day to serve him with injunctions throughout the case.

Sir Geoffary Bindman on protecting sources
Sir Geoffary Bindman on protecting sources

Sir Geoffrey Bindman talked about the Goodwin case, which he worked on and the difficulty of journalists protecting sources under new terrorism laws.

Jo Glanville on the misuse of terrorism laws against journalists
Jo Glanville on the misuse of terrorism laws against journalists

Jo Glanville talked about the misuse of production orders against journalists and how they were used in cases were the information had already been published.

Mark Stephens on security services using the media.
Mark Stephens on security services using the media.

Finally the eminently quotable Mark Stephens discussed how the security services had become lazy and used journalists as an extension of their intelligence gathering.

The Q&A raised some interesting points and featured Shiv Malik who was served with a production order as well as Anna Mazolla solicitor from Hickman & Rose