Supreme Court to consider whether police can rely on secret evidence when seeking PACE Production Orders against the media

Today the Supreme Court is hearing an important appeal for media organisations, R (BSkyB) v Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Link here.

 

Production Orders under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE) can have far-reaching ramifications for journalists and media organisations.  Under PACE, the police may apply to the courts for a Production Order requiring footage, documents and confidential source material to be handed over when certain conditions are fulfilled.

 

In this case a judge granted a Production Order against BSkyB following an ex parte hearing from which BSkyB had been excluded, and consideration of material not disclosed to them. The Divisional Court ruled that this was unlawful, and there is no power under PACE to hold such an ex parte hearing or to have a 'Closed Material Proceeding'.

 

This is an appeal by the Metropolitan Police from the Divisional Court, which ruled in BSkyB's favour. 

 

The police argue that they are entitled to rely on secret evidence, not disclosed to the media, when applying for such Orders.

 

Gavin Millar QC represents BSkyB. 

 

Caoilfhionn Gallagher represents the Media Lawyers' Association, which has been granted permission to intervene in the appeal.

 

Coverage of the case in the Press Gazette, 'Met in secret court bid to force Sky News to hand over SAS source information'.

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