Downing Street has insisted the freedom of investigative journalists and whistleblowers will not be restricted, after the Law Commission published plans suggesting that maximum jail terms for those leaking information should rise from two years to 14.
No 10 said it was incorrect to suggest that either group would face greater threat of prosecution as a result of the new proposals, which have been condemned by prominent whistleblowers and civil rights groups.
Theresa May’s official spokesman said: “I’ve seen the way this has been reported and it is fundamentally wrong. It is not, never has been and never will be the policy of the government to restrict the freedom of investigative journalism or public whistleblowing.
“One of the points of this review is to consider whether more safeguards are required to protect public sector whistleblowers and journalists.”
Asked whether journalists could face jail for reporting leaked information, he said: “We will not do anything to restrict the freedom of journalists.”
The government’s legal advisers were accused of launching a “full-frontal attack” on whistleblowers on Sunday over the proposals, which recommend radically increasing prison sentences for revealing and handling state secrets.
Draft recommendations from the legal advisers say the maximum prison sentence for leakers should be raised, potentially from two to 14 years, and the definition of espionage should be expanded to include obtaining sensitive…