Nikolay Kalinin on ‘Priti Awful’ Patel trying to silence journalism through changes to the Official Secrets Act
Accountability is one of the pillars of our democracy and it is how we attempt to ensure that MPs work for no one other than for their constituents. If they do something wrong, the system is meant to hold them accountable through scrutiny, and if necessary, recall petitions and by-elections.
It seems, however, that after months of being held accountable by the public and the British press for their abhorrent behaviour during the pandemic, the government has decided that the best course of action is to now ban journalists from writing stories that “embarrass the government.”
This course of action is the brainchild of the ultimate neighbour from hell ‘Priti Awful’ Patel. She has decided to amend the 1989 Official Secrets Act by making it illegal for journalists to handle leaked documents, in an attempt to combat “foreign agents.” To me, this sounds sinisterly similar to a similar Russian law that has attempted to clamp down on the opposition.
Under this law, things such as the leaked Matt Hancock video, as well as Dominic Cummings’ texts revealing how the latter and Boris mishandled the pandemic, would be seen as illegal in the hands of journalists and could result in them facing maximum 14 years in prison.
So, let’s just recap: the British taxpayer is paying for a government that wants to limit the ability of journalists and the public to hold it to account. I would suggest that sounds a lot like what tyrants do.
The Home Office has denied that the change will suppress journalists exposing the government’s incompetence. In response to criticism, they stated: “It is wrong to claim the proposals will put journalists at risk of being treated like spies and they will, rightly, remain free to hold the government to account” and added “this will be balanced to protect press freedom and the ability for whistleblowers to hold organisations to account”.
At the same time however, the Home Office has denied providing ‘public interest defence’ to journalists at the recommendation of human rights organisations, stating that such proposals “undermine our efforts to prevent damaging unauthorised disclosures, which would not be in the public interest.”
Not only does the government want to crack down on protesters bringing the people in it to account, but also it wants to crack down on journalists who have an important role in spreading the truth about the government’s actions through the media.
I think this is the part where most of us get up and say: “Let’s take back control.” We are tired of the Conservatives treating the public that elected them like livestock. It’s time they realise that we have the power to push them off their throne – because this is how proper democracy works.