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Police watchdog requests guidance on journalist harassment allegations

Gareth-Davies-new-e1463476484158The police watchdog is reviewing the way it handles harassment allegations against journalists after a warning given to a weekly newspaper reporter was revoked.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission agreed to request the guidance as part of a settlement with chief reporter Gareth Davies and Trinity Mirror, publisher of the Croydon Advertiser.

The IPCC has now written to the College of Policing to seek further clarification on the matter.

The Metropolitan Police last month rescinded the Police Information Notice given to Gareth in 2014 after he doorstepped and sent two emails to convicted fraudster Neelam Desai.

The force previously said Gareth’s attempts to question Desai, who was previously jailed for 30 months for frauds totalling £230,000, “went beyond what was reasonable”.

But Gareth, pictured above left, backed by the Advertiser’s publisher Local World then new owner Trinity Mirror, challenged the ruling and, earlier this year, a High Court judge granted permission for a judicial review.

The letter from IPCC deputy chair Sarah Green, seen by the Advertiser, reads: “The IPCC has recently been involved in judicial review proceedings brought by a journalist who was issued with a police information notice by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS).

“The MPS has agreed to revoke the notice, however it appears there is a lack of guidance to those serving with the police on the use of such notices in a journalistic context.

“I understand that the college is in the process of reviewing the national guidance on these notices and ask that you consider including a section on journalism in the guidance and in your Practice Advice on Investigating Stalking and Harassment.”

PINs are not a criminal offence but can appear on enhanced criminal records checks.

They warn the recipient that if they continue the behaviour they have been accused of they could be arrested, but police are not required to investigate whether the allegations are true.

Gareth told HTFP: “It’s encouraging the IPCC has acted quickly on the settlement we reached and I’d urge the Met to do the same.

“After that it’s down the College of Policing to issue guidance that means criminals will not be able to take advantage of PINs to block legitimate, public interest journalism’.”