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Mr Jeremy Warner

Volume 124: debated on Friday 18 December 1987

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To ask the Attorney-General what representations he has received from the International Press Institute about the Law Lords' decision that Jeremy Warner, business correspondent of The Independent, must disclose confidential sources of information.

I have received a letter from the director of the International Press Institute about the recent House of Lords decision which concerned Mr. Warner. In that letter he protested over what he said was governmental interference with the free press. Such an allegation is unfounded. Mr. Warner was asked, by independent inspectors appointed under section 177 of the Financial Services Act 1986 to carry out investigations into possible offences under the insider dealing legislation, to identify his source of information for two articles which he had published. His refusal to answer those questions was referred by the inspectors to the court for the court to inquire into the refusal under section 178 of that Act. The court is empowered to punish someone who so refuses as if he were in contempt of court unless he has a reasonable excuse. The House of Lords held that Mr. Warner did not have a reasonable excuse in this case, essentially on the ground that the information which the inspectors required from him was necessary for the prevention of crime.