Piers Morgan has described proposals to hand journalists jail sentences for embarrassing the government as “outrageous but unsurprising”.
The former Good Morning Britain host, who saw the government boycott the show for 201 days in 2020 and even witnessed the prime minister hide in a fridge in order to swerve an interview with him, hit out at plansto reform the Official Secrets Act which could result in journalists being treated like foreign spies.
Priti Patel’s Home Office wants to make it a crime for journalists to embarrass the govt by publishing leaked official documents. The maximum penalty would be 14 years in prison. This would put British journalists on a par with foreign spies.— John Simpson (@JohnSimpsonNews) July 21, 2021
The 1989 act is being updated to take into account the impact of the internet age, especially in the area of speedy data transfer.
Human rights organisations and the Law Commission, which drew up the proposals, say there should be a ‘public interest defence’ included to prevent the prosecution of journalists who receive leaked documents.
But in a paper released for the consultation, the Home Office said such a move would ‘undermine our efforts to prevent damaging unauthorised disclosures, which would not be in the public interest’.
Morgan joined a number of people on social media condemning the moves.
He said: “I think it’s absolutely outrageous but unsurprising from a Govt that thinks it’s OK to boycott news shows if they ask tough questions.”
I think it’s absolutely outrageous but unsurprising from a Govt that thinks it’s OK to boycott news shows if they ask tough questions. https://t.co/1NrRfD4IFQ— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) July 21, 2021
Reaction elsewhere was similarly fierce. Here’s what people had to say:
Just reading about Hungary where they’re banning protests, pushing through voter suppression and thinking of imprisoning journalists for 14 years and oh sorry that’s us. https://t.co/VTzwWQztCM— David Schneider (@davidschneider) July 20, 2021
So the Tories now want to jail journalists for up to 14 years for embarrassing them. This is on top of jailing people for up to 10 years for holding annoying protests. Britain literally chose to destroy its own democracy, rather than let everyone have broadband for free.— RD Hale (@RD_HaIe) July 20, 2021
Under new Tory plans, journalists could face prison sentences of up to 14 years for stories that embarrass the Government.— Freddie (@FreddieBailey96) July 21, 2021
And just remember, the Tories said Socialism would destroy your freedom.
Thought you lived in a free and open society, that jailing journalist only happened in Russia, China et al.. https://t.co/C0zDt5z70N— Renee Hoenderkamp (@DrHoenderkamp) July 22, 2021