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Journalist wins court fight over protection of sources

(IFJ/IFEX) - The following is a 1 December 2008 IFJ media release:

EFJ Welcomes Court Victory over Protection of Sources in the UK

The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ), the European group of the International Federation of Journalists, has today welcomed the latest court victory by journalist Sally Murrer over protection of sources in Great Britain.

"This local court victory over protection of sources is not only another victory for press freedom in Europe but also a recognition of the importance of journalists' unions in enforcing their members' rights through courts if necessary," said EFJ President Arne König. "This is yet another success of the National Union of Journalists' ( NUJ) campaign for the right of journalists to protect their sources. The first case on protection of sources, successfully brought by Bill Goodwin with strong support of the NUJ in 1996 to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg against the British government, laid the foundation for important case law on this fundamental journalists' right. Further, Sally's victory is a vindication for her courage to defend her rights and freedoms."

Sally Murrer, a part-time reporter on the Milton Keynes Citizen, has won her 19-month fight to protect her sources, against the threat of being jailed for receiving information from a police officer. Charges against her of "aiding and abetting misconduct in a public office" were thrown out at Kingston Crown Court in Surrey on 25 November.

Her office and her home were searched by police when she was arrested at her home in May last year. She was strip-searched, held and interrogated for 30 hours.

The trial judge ruled all the evidence "inadmissible" because it had been obtained in breach of Sally Murrer's rights as a journalist under the Human Rights Act and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The EFJ represents over 260,000 journalists in over 30 countries.

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