Mark Dias called the Northern Echo four years ago to reveal that an internal equality review had uncovered elements of institutional racism within Cleveland Police.
Mr Dias, who later left the force, claims that after the paper ran the story he became the subject of an investigation which included accessing his telephone data, and those of journalists, a Police Federation representative and a solicitor.
He is now suing his former force for misfeasance in public office, claiming that he was the victim of a campaign by its Professional Standards Department.
The case comes amid serious concerns among journalists, lawyers and free speech campaigners at the ease with which police have been able to unmask confidential sources by using powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (Ripa).
The then Coalition Government changed the law last year so that instead of being able to authorise their own requests for telecoms data so as to identify sources, police had to use the procedure detailed in Pace, the Police and Criminal Evidence Act, and apply to a court for a production order, which would give journalists and news organisations the opportunity to oppose such applications at a court hearing.
But provisions in the Investigatory Powers Bill could change the system so that Judicial Commissioners could authorise applications for requests for communications intended to identify sources with the journalist or news organisation having to be notified that the application was being made.
Publishers, editors, news organisations and the National Union of Journalists have all said the new Bill does not go far enough and offers virtually no meaningful protection for journalistic sources.
Ms Dias told the Echo that the basis of his claim is that after blowing the whistle on institutional racism at Cleveland Police he became the victim of a campaign by Cleveland Police’s professional standards department.
“They fabricated an investigation into me based on the conversation I had with The Northern Echo, which involved the use of surveillance, but there was never any substance to that allegation and they have subsequently confirmed that they always knew there were never any documents leaked to The Northern Echo,” he told the newspaper.
“Since then there have been several whistleblowers come forward from professional standards making statements through solicitors that there was a suspicion in the force that all their Asian officers were corrupt and that there was an operation carried out against them, which targeted all Asian officers, starting from 2002.”
Mr Dias said he left the force as a result of the treatment he received.
A Cleveland Police spokesman confirmed that a former officer was bringing a civil claim, but said the force was unable to comment further.
“We have received concerns about police operations which are alleged to have been disproportionately focused on BME (black and minority ethnic) officers,” he told the newspaper.
“We have been clear to our staff and communities that there is no ongoing operation of this nature as was suggested within the Home Affairs Select Committee.
“We are conducting a thorough assessment into whether, as alleged, Cleveland Police has ever, in the past, undertaken any operation which could fit this description and we are keeping the IPCC informed throughout.”