Police phone snoop furore builds

PRESSURE was continuing to mount today on Suffolk police over the force's “Big Brother” investigation into the phone records of a former Evening Star reporter.

PRESSURE was continuing to mount today on Suffolk police over the force's “Big Brother” investigation into the phone records of a former Evening Star reporter.

The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) became the latest organisation to condemn the force for secretly obtaining the confidential phone records of Mark Bulstrode in a bid to uncover his sources.

Chris Morley, NUJ president, labeled the action taken to access Mr Bulstrode's phone records as “outrageously underhand”.

His criticism comes on the back of concerns raised by The Society of Editors and The Freedom Campaign.

Mr Morley said: “The NUJ is deeply concerned about this outrageously underhand investigation by police into the source of a journalist.

“The obtaining of Mark Bulstrode's private phone records by Suffolk Police in secret in order to try to discover the source of information within their own ranks is appalling.

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“The lengths taken, when challenged, to put off admitting they had carried out this trawl are also very concerning.

“But the casual nature in which the private records of a journalist were obtained in this case opens up the alarming prospect of police forces up and down the UK seeking to track down the sources of embarrassing stories about their own failures by probing the affairs of the journalist who raises it with them.

“It is also likely to scare off potential whistleblowers within police forces who will fear being uncovered.”

The situation arose after Mr Bulstrode, 26, received information from a source and approached Suffolk police's press office to inquire about a “cold case” but was asked not to publish anything because it could jeopardise the investigation.

Despite agreeing to this, Det Supt Roy Lambert then authorised officers to obtain Mr Bulstrode's private phone records to find his source.

A member of police staff was then given “words of advice”

Mr Bulstrode, who now works for The Star's sister paper The East Anglian Daily Times, said he discovered his phone records had been obtained after making a request under the Data Protection Act.

The Evening Star took the unusual step on Friday of demanding an inquiry into Suffolk police.

The Star put ten questions to the force in an attempt to get to the bottom of what happened but is still awaiting a response.

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