The Metropolitan Police rejected a complaint by Gareth against his treatment and its decision was upheld by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) in June.
Gareth was originally issued with the Police Information Notice (PIN) – or harassment warning – on March 31 last year while investigating Desai and her alleged involvement in a series of dating website scams.
He and Local World are seeking a declaration from the IPCC that the PIN should not have been issued, that the IPCC’s decision be quashed and that it should be directed to instruct the Met to remove the warning from its records or reinvestigate the matter.
Said Gareth: “I acted both within the law and the guidelines I am given as a journalist, but this case is about more than my conduct.
“It questions whether it should be possible to use PINs, or harassment warnings, to block or impede responsible journalism. I am very pleased that, in supporting me, Local World has recognised how significant these issues are.”
A spokesperson for Local World added: “Currently the police are able to issue harassment warnings, which can appear on a person’s record, without investigating whether the allegations are genuine.
“That cannot be right and for the benefit of all journalists across the entire industry as well as Gareth personally we hope the judicial review will confirm this very important point.”
Individuals and organisations can seek a judicial review if they believe a decision by a public body has been made unlawfully. A judge will then decide whether to grant permission for the review to go ahead to a full hearing.
The Met rejected Gareth’s original complaint saying his attempts to question Desai, who was previously convicted of frauds totalling £230,000, “went beyond what was reasonable”.
The reporter he had visited Desai’s home once and sent her two emails detailing the allegations against her and requesting a comment.
Gareth and Local World argue that this did not amount to harassment, and that the issuing of harassment warnings to journalists is contrary to Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights, the right to freedom of expression.