Police asked to explain phone probe

THE EADT has now filed an official complaint against Suffolk police after its most senior detective obtained the private mobile phone records of a journalist in a bid to discover his sources.

THE EADT has now filed an official complaint against Suffolk police after its most senior detective obtained the private mobile phone records of a journalist in a bid to discover his sources.

Editor Terry Hunt has requested a full explanation for the action taken by Det Supt Roy Lambert in a letter sent yesterday to Chief Constable Alastair McWhirter.

As revealed in yesterday's EADT, confidential mobile phone records of reporter Mark Bulstrode were obtained by Mr Lambert so he could find out who he had been speaking to.

The move was taken after the journalist approached the force with information about the reopening of an historic investigation.


You may also want to watch:


Despite the EADT agreeing not to run anything on the inquiry because of its sensitive nature, Mr Lambert wanted to know how we had found out about the case - so obtained the phone records.

Police have defended the action, which happened without Mr Bulstrode's knowledge, as “justified” - but it has brought scathing condemnation from civil liberties groups and within the media industry.

Most Read

And the letter sent to the chief constable outlines how unjustified the EADT believes Mr Lambert was, calling for an investigation into the matter.

Yesterday, Ipswich MP Chris Mole said the police should only use intercept powers - including going through mobile phone records - if they were looking for evidence that a crime had occurred.

He said: “It is not acceptable for them to go trawling through records on a fishing expedition without clear evidence.”

But St Edmunds MP David Ruffley said he was not prepared to criticise the police actions without having spoken to them.

However he said: “This sounds extremely unusual. It would be useful to know if this a one-off occurrence or if it is something that happens from time to time.”

South Suffolk MP Tim Yeo said: “I have never regarded mobile phone records as being especially secure - having said that I think the police would have to show good reason why they should take this kind of action.”

Officers are permitted to obtain such information if they believe a criminal offence has taken place - no criminal charges have resulted from the inquiry. A member of police staff has been given “words of advice”.

Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, has said he will be raising the matter with the government.

He said: “I think this is outrageous.”

A spokesman for the force said: “There was concern that the disclosure of information could have jeopardised an investigation into a serious crime, potentially resulting in an offender evading justice.”

Mr Bulstrode only discovered his phone records had been obtained after making a request under the Data Protection Act.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus