Notice of application for order: confidential journalistic data

Part of Crime (Overseas Production Orders) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee am 11:15 am ar 18 Rhagfyr 2018.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Ben Wallace Ben Wallace Minister of State (Home Office) (Security) 11:15, 18 Rhagfyr 2018

I beg to move amendment 2, in clause 12, page 10, line 39, at end insert—

“(6) In determining for the purposes of subsection (5) whether or not a purpose is a criminal purpose, crime is to be taken to mean conduct which—

(a) constitutes one or more criminal offences under the law of a part of the United Kingdom, or

(b) is, or corresponds to, conduct which, if it all took place in a particular part of the United Kingdom, would constitute one or more criminal offences under the law of that part of the United Kingdom.”

This amendment clarifies what is meant in Clause 12(5)(a) of the Bill by the reference to creating or acquiring electronic data with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose. What is criminal is to be judged by reference to what is, or would be, a criminal offence under the law of a part of the United Kingdom.

Clause 12(5) provides that electronic data is not to be regarded as having been created or acquired for the purpose of journalism if it was created or acquired with the intention of furthering a criminal purpose, and that electronic data that a person intends to use to further such a purpose is not to be regarded as intended to be used for the purpose of journalism. As drafted, the Bill does not explicitly define what is meant by a criminal purpose in that context. Without a definition of criminal purpose or a crime in the Bill, there is a risk that the provision could be interpreted inconsistently within UK law. Our intention is that a criminal purpose is criminal only if the conduct constituting a related crime is an offence under UK law, regardless of whether it is a crime in the place where the relevant data was created or acquired, or where it was intended to be used.

For example, if a person located in another country was creating an extremist blog that encouraged others to join a terrorist organisation that is proscribed in the UK, such as ISIS, that person should not benefit from any protections afforded to journalistic data under the Bill. That could be the case even when that country does not criminalise the same conduct. That reflects the principle that the criminal purpose must be recognised as criminal under UK law.

To flip the example the other way, if a legitimate British journalist based abroad is writing an article about political corruption, which the country that they are in deems illegal, we should absolutely ensure that they are given the right protection under the Bill, given that their conduct is perfectly acceptable under British law. Without something that links criminal purpose to conduct that is criminal in the UK, or to conduct that would be criminal had it occurred here, there is a risk that the term will be interpreted by reference to the criminal law of the place where the person who created or acquired the data is located. I therefore propose amending the Bill to include a definition of what is meant by “criminal purpose”. I hope that hon. Members will support the need for this clarifying amendment.