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Police seize regional press man's phone records

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EADT editor Terry Hunt added: “For Suffolk Police to go so far as to obtain the private phone records of a journalist – after his newspaper has agreed not to publish the story – raises all sorts of concerns.

“I will be making a formal complaint to the Chief Constable.”

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, said: “I think this is outrageous. The police and media have a long history of working together to jointly inform the public.

“In this case, the paper had, at the request of police, agreed not to carry a report and were rewarded with an investigation into the private telephone records of a reporter.”

“That is certainly no way to maintain sensible working relationships between the police and the media.

“The police have got the power to search for phone records and it’s very helpful in the pursuit of criminals but I think they have used this in a way that is nothing to do with the pursuit of criminality.”

He said he would be taking the case up with Government ministers to find out what they think of the “ludicrous” and “scary” police activity.

He added: “It’s just an outrage that they (the police) should use powers that should be reserved for serious criminal investigations to try to find out how the media is getting its information. They should have better things to do.

“What the public will see in this is that the media works very closely in support of the police and if this is how the police will turn on their friends, the public will say ‘what are they doing in terms of invading our privacy’.”

Mark Wallace, campaign manager for civil liberties pressure group The Freedom Association, said: “It does appear very concerning that the police would rather pry into the private matters of a well-meaning journalist than focus their attentions on the many, many real criminals who continue to get away with crimes that ruin the lives of members of the public.”