The Evening Star in Ipswich is backing sister paper the East Anglian Daily Times over a reporter who had his phone records secretly investigated by police.
Editor Nigel Pickover is demanding an inquiry into Suffolk Police and has fired off ten key questions to the force.
Police seized the confidential mobile phone records of Daily Times journalist Mark Bulstrode in a bid to discover his sources. But police defended their actions – and said they were fully “justified”.
The reporter had approached the force with information about the reopening of an historic investigation that was not public knowledge. The EADT agreed not to run anything on the inquiry because of its sensitive nature.
Mark is a former Ipswich Star crime reporter and has the backing of both editors.
Click to read the background in Friday’s story here.
Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover said: “we believe the move threatens both the Suffolk public’s civil liberties – and a hitherto excellent and productive relationship between the press and police.
“We say that if officers have secretly probed a journalist’s records – how many of your mobile phone lists have they scrutinised?
“All that Mr Bulstrode had done was speak to his sources about a matter of public interest.
“That is a relationship that has existed between the press and the police for decades – we work together to highlight crime and help bring criminals to book.”
Mark had approached the police press office to inquire about the cold case, but was asked not to publish a story because it could jeopardise the investigation.
Despite agreeing to this, detective superintendent Roy Lambert then obtained Mr Bulstrode’s private phone records to find his source.
Mark discovered his phone records had been obtained after making a request under the Data Protection Act.
He said: “My understanding is that police are only able to access phone records when they suspect a crime has taken place.
“Clearly, that is not the case in this situation and I don’t believe they were justified.”
The Ipswich Star splashed on the story on Friday, demanded the inquiry, gave background inside the paper and even provided readers with their own step by step guide to finding out what information is held about them by the authorities.
The ten questions: