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Johnson denies Official Secrets Act plans would lead to prosecution of journalists

Boris JohnsonBoris Johnson has denied a review of the Official Secrets Act would lead to prosecutions of journalists.

The Prime Minister was taken to task this morning on proposed changes to the Act, which the News Media Association has warned “could criminalise public interest journalism”.

Mr Johnson, pictured, insisted in an interview with LBC this morning that the proposals would not “interrupt the normal process” of journalists using confidential sources.

During the interview, LBC presenter Nick Ferrari quizzed the PM whether he was concerned journalists could face prison terms under the potential reforms.

In response, Mr Johnson said: “This is not what we want to do at all.”

He added: “I don’t want to have a world in which people are prosecuted for doing what they think is their public duty.”

Mr Johnson suggested any changes would aim to stop “stuff” that could damage national security, but denied they would target confidential sources for journalists’ investigations.

He said: “Editors and journalists, on the whole, do behave with great responsibility when it comes to stuff that they think should not be put into the public domain because of the damage it could do to national security or to public health or for any other reason.

“What we want to do is make sure that we don’t do anything to interrupt the operation of good journalism and bringing you new and important facts into the public domain.

“The searchlight by the British press will continue to shine on every crevice.”

The NMA has joined human rights organisations and the Law Commission in calling for a ‘public interest’ defence to counter the effects of the planned legislation.