Tuesday 16 June 2009

Night Jack

I have written to the editor of the Times - my goodness doesn't that sound important !! However it was for a serious reason. I wanted to know what the public interest was in unmasking Night Jack, the previously anonymous policeman blogger. I have yet to receive a reply.

I really enjoyed and valued Night Jack's blog and completely understood how he needed to protect his identity. Any large organisation these days, public or private, is paranoid about free comment. Only the thought police corrected banalities of corporate PR are permitted. That is a tragedy. It is only by real and uncensored first-hand testimony can we hope to find out what's going on in our country. The Times and Mr Justice Eady have dealt a severe blow to primary sources like Night Jack. Many now will not risk telling the truth for fear of recrimination from their employers or others with an interest in stifling it. It's a step backwards after some real progress granted by new media pluralism. It is grimly fitting that the decison to undermine free reportage in the UK came on a day when the world is learning about the Iranian fight for freedom from bloggers and twitters.

I would have hoped Times journalists understood that Night Jack was a source who deserved protection. When I worked in investigative journalism this was a tenet of faith. I once faced a judge in the Old Bailey who wanted to send me to prison over Christmas for refusing to divulge a source. Instead the Wapping boys and girls went for a cheap story that will last a day or two. What a price?

Ironically Night Jack won this year's Orwell Prize for blogging (the first one ever awarded). It seems the Ministry of Truth had the last laugh.

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