Chris Mullin, the former MP who, as a journalist, was instrumental in exposing the miscarriage of justice suffered by the Birmingham Six, is now facing an attempt by the police to force him to reveal his sources.
Mr Mullin is to contest the police action seeking an order of the High Court to compel disclosure.
From The Guardian online yesterday (31 January) we reproduce the following article:
A journalist and former member of parliament who helped uncover one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British history is to fight a police attempt to force him to reveal source material for his research into the Birmingham pub bombings.
Chris Mullin, 74, said he will contest the police attempt to get a high court order served on him in relation to his investigation into the Birmingham Six, whose convictions were quashed in 1991.
“If West Midlands police had carried out a proper investigation after the bombings, instead of framing the first half-dozen people unlucky enough to fall into their hands, they might have caught the real perpetrators in the first place.
“It is beyond irony. They appear to have gone for the guy who blew the whistle,” he said.
A court hearing is scheduled for the Old Bailey on 23 and 24 February where Mullin will be represented by Gavin Millar QC.
West Midlands police have applied for an order requiring Mullin to disclose material in relation to his 1985-1986 investigation into the bombings in 1974 under the Terrorism Act 2000.
Journalists are professionally bound to maintain confidentiality of sources and many, over the years, have said they would be prepared to go to jail rather than reveal sources.
“The principle of protecting your source and keeping your word when confidentiality is pledged is a vital one for all journalists and lies at the heart of the NUJ’s code of conduct. The case brought by West Midlands police risks compromising that core principle and undermining press freedom, which is why the NUJ stands four-square behind Chris and is backing this case,” said Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary.
In one of the earliest cases to test the principle, Goodwin v the United Kingdom in 1996, the European court of human rights backed a journalist with The Engineer magazine, Bill Goodwin, after a court in Britain tried to force him to reveal a source.
Mullin’s book, Error of Judgment: The Truth About The Birmingham Bombings, was published 36 years ago with further editions published in 1987, 1990 and 1997.
Police believe Mullin has interviews that could confirm the identity of a surviving member of the IRA gang behind the pub bombings.
A spokesperson for West Midlands police confirmed the proceedings and said the force remained committed to bringing those responsible for the bombings to justice.
“It would not be appropriate to comment further at this stage,” they said.
The original article can be found HERE.
photo credit: Murdo Macleod/The Guardian