Defending John Kay in court, Trevor Burke QC told the jury that the prosecution of journalists is ‘the hallmark of oppressive regimes that seek to restrict free speech, crush the press and silence open debate’. What our democratic and civilised authorities have in common with such regimes is that they are prosecuting investigative journalists not for breaking the law, but for breaking embarrassing stories; not for printing lies, but for publishing hidden truths. Unlike in those police states, however, crusading UK prosecutors are still faced with the inconvenience of having to persuade a jury made up of members of the populace who evidently do not all share their fear and loathing of the popular media.
As always, the question is – where is the line drawn? And what of the political blog?