A journalists’ trade body has raised concerns that government plans to regulate private investigators could have ‘serious spin-off implications’ for investigative journalism.
The Chartered Institute of Journalists issued a warning after the Home Office revealed plans last week to clamp down on unlicensed private detectives by bringing in new legislation.
Amanda Brodie, chair of the CIoJ’s Professional Practices Board, said: “We are aware that the Home Secretary has said journalists will be excluded from regulation to allow them to carry out legitimate investigations in the public interest, but we would ask who defines what is in the public interest and what is or is not a legitimate investigation?
“Whilst there may be no overt intention to muzzle journalists, our concern is that this legislation may be used in the future to interfere with the free flow of information which should be part of any democratic society.”
She added the new legislation would need to be carefully worded and the CIoJ would give its views when the government holds a public consultation.