Police promise swift action

POLICE have today pledged to do try to answer a series of questions submitted by The Evening Star in the wake of a top detective snooping into a journalist's private mobile phone records.

POLICE have today pledged to do try to answer a series of questions submitted by The Evening Star in the wake of a top detective snooping into a journalist's private mobile phone records.

The Star took the unusual step on Friday of demanding an inquiry into Suffolk police after detective superintendent Roy Lambert authorised a search of the phone records of former Evening Star reporter Mark Bulstrode.

Police were concerned about information Mr Bulstrode had obtained about an inquiry in Ipswich which goes back two decades and how he got tipped-off.

In response The Star put ten questions to police in an attempt to get to the bottom of what happened.

A spokesman for Suffolk police today said it would take a few days to get a response together.

The spokesman said: “We have now received the questions formally from The Evening Star.

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“We will look at them individually and our aim will be to provide wherever possible any information that we can.”

News that Mr Bulstrode's private phone records were accessed has been met with concern from civil liberty groups.

Mark Wallace, campaign manager for The Freedom Association said he was concerned that police would apparently rather pry into the private matters of a journalist rather than focus on criminals getting away with crimes.

Meanwhile Bob Satchwell, executive director of the Society of Editors, has described the situation as outrageous and is to raise the matter with Government.

After receiving information from a source Mr Bulstrode 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 Lambert then obtained Mr Bulstrode's private phone records to find his source.

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

Mr Bulstrode, 26, 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.

Is it acceptable for the police to snoop on mobile phone records? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

The questions:

1. Who obtained the confidential phone records of former Evening Star journalist Mark Bulstrode?

2. Who sanctioned this? Did the officer concerned refer this matter to the chief constable or any other senior officer?

3. What is the process under which such checks are made?

4. How many other journalists - Evening Star or otherwise - working in Suffolk have had their home or mobile phone records checked by Suffolk Police in the last six years, ie since 2000?

5. Are there any ongoing inquiries in which journalists working in Suffolk have had their phone records, home or mobile checked?

6. Have any journalists working in Suffolk had their telephone conversations taped or recorded in any way in the last six years.

7. Did the police press office assist the checking of reporter Mr Bulstrode's phone records in any way? Did the press office pass on Mr Bulstrode's mobile phone number to those involved in the investigation?

8. How many home or mobile phone records were checked in the years 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006?

9. Is Suffolk Constabulary holding an official inquiry into the case?

10. Will Suffolk review its policy as a result of this case - or is it business as usual?

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