Serving professional journalism since 1912

Magazine of the Chartered Institute of Journalists

Journalist’s sources should be protected

Press release
Release date: 24 October 2016

Journalist’s sources should be protected

The Chartered Institute of Journalists is calling for a change in the law making news publishers and journalists legally liable for breaching the confidentiality of their sources.

The call from the longest established association of journalists in the world follows a ruling by the Lord Chief Justice and two other appeal court judges to turn down an appeal by a whistleblower at the high security Belmarsh prison in south east London.

The CIoJ says Robert Norman gave the press a series of key public interest stories about security and conditions at Belmarsh and in the British prison system.

But the Daily Mirror and News of the World publishers voluntarily surrendered his identity and the fact he’d been compensated to the Metropolitan Police.

He was jailed for 20 months.

The Institute is the only journalist organisation that has publicly supported Mr Norman’s case.


The Institute has consistently complained that public officials sacrificed by News International and Trinity Mirror to the Met Police enquiry Operation Elveden have had their human rights as journalist sources grossly abused.

The Court of Appeal ruling confirms that both publishers breached the time-honoured principle of journalism.


Chair of the Institute’s Professional Practices Board, Professor Tim Crook said:  “This is the most scandalous betrayal of freedom of expression and integrity of British journalism in living memory. Mr Norman and the other sources were promised protection and confidentiality.”

He added: “This an appalling assault on democracy and civil liberty. Journalists everywhere must protest and stop this happening again.”

The Institute will continue to campaign for what it sees as the restoration of the reputation of journalism to honour the moral and legal duty to protect its sources.