Newspaper editors applaud Suzanne Breen court ruling

Newspaper editors from the Birmingham Mail and The Scottish Sun have lauded today's court ruling to uphold the press freedom of journalist Suzanne Breen, who withheld material about the Real IRA.

A judge at Belfast's High Court ruled that Breen, northern editor of the Sunday Tribune, published in Dublin, would be in danger if she were to hand over information relating to the Real IRA and its involvement in the murder of two British soldiers.

Breen had received a claim of responsibility by mobile phone and also conducted an interview with the Real IRA. She then refused to hand over the telephone records and notes to officers investigating the murders, which prompted police to seek a court order to compel her to do so.

She told the judge that the right to protect such sources was crucial to investigative journalism and would have faced up to five years in jail had the court ruled against her.

Dinsmore described the ruling as "absolutely the right decision".

"If journalists are forced to give up their contacts the whole thing falls apart," he said. "The pillars of our business is our sources and we don’t give those up. If this had gone the wrong way then it would have been the death knell for investigative journalism.”

Dinsmore added that the ruling would set a precedent and allow sources to once again feel confident that their trust and anonymity would not be betrayed.

Dyson was similarly full of praise for the decision. He said: "This is a fantastic victory for the press and journalists.

"The majority of professional journalists would opt for jail rather than agreeing to hand over sources, but in this particular case with the risk to life such a factor it was imperative that the law saw sense. That they have is a fine day for justice as well."

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