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September 9, 2011 by · 1 Comment 

The conduct of Britain’s Metropolitan Police (Scotland Yard) vis-à-vis the news media has again come under the scrutiny of lawmakers after it was learned that Amelia Hill, a reporter for the Guardian newspaper who has been covering the phone-hacking scandal, was questioned by police “under caution.” (The legal terms means that the words of the individual being questioned could be used against them in a court of law.) Police reportedly were attempting to learn who among them had leaked information to her about their investigation of the scandal. Speaking in Parliament today (Friday) Jeremy Hunt, Britain’s secretary of state for culture, media and sport, warned, “We must be careful not to overreact in a way that would undermine the foundations of a free society.” Hunt attempted to draw a distinction between journalists who attempt to get off-the-record information from police officers freely and those who attempt to get information from them through bribery. Meanwhile, in a column written for the London Telegraph, veteran journalist/broadcaster Cristina Odone condemned the police questioning of Hill. “The fact that a journalist can be treated in this way for talking to a source — even a police source — off the record sets a dangerous precedent. Many journalists will drop an investigation rather than risk jail, with all the consequences for their families,” she observed.