Boris Johnson claims the press won't be "muzzled" by Official Secrets review

28 July 2021, 10:48 | Updated: 28 July 2021, 10:50

EJ Ward

By EJ Ward

The Prime Minister said he does not "for one minute" think a review of the Official Secrets Act could prevent the press from carrying out investigations.

Fears have been raised that potential changes to the Act could see investigative journalists classed as spies and possibly jailed.

Nick Ferrari told the PM he knew him as a "buccaneering" journalist, challenging him over the possibility reporters could face jail under the new rules.

Speaking exclusively to LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast the Prime Minister said: "You know as well as I do, some of the best and most important stories, whether they're Watergate or Thalidomide, come from tainted sources."

Watch in full: Nick Ferrari interviews Prime Minister Boris Johnson

"Or, come from a source that has no business putting that out in the public domain."

Mr Johnson said his "argument" was "that is the important thing to focus on."

“One man’s, you know, treacherous betrayer of confidences and irresponsible leaker is another man’s whistleblower.”

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The Prime Minister said the government was aiming to make sure they didn't do "anything to interrupt the operation of good journalism and bringing new and important works into the public domain."

"Whatever this thing is, I don't for one minute think it is going to interrupt the normal process," the PM said.

He added that the British press would "continue to shine a searchlight on every crevice of the British government."

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The government said the reform was needed as the existing acts, with the last update in 1989, are no longer enough to fight the “discernible and very real threat posed by state threats”.

The Home Office consultation suggests journalists should be treated in the same way as those who leak information and those committing espionage offences.

It also looked at whether maximum sentences should be increased from two to 14 years.