English journalist Chris Mullin, who exposed the Birmingham Six miscarriage of justice, has accused police there of going “for the guy who blew the whistle” after they sought a court order requiring him to reveal his sources.
The former MP wrote ‘Error of Judgement’ and made a series of documentaries which helped expose one of the worst miscarriages of justice in British legal history.
The convictions of the six Irishmen (pictured, with Mullin, centre) - Paddy Hill, Gerry Hunter, Johnny Walker, Hugh Callaghan, Richard McIlkenny and Billy Power - were quashed in 1991, sixteen years after they were wrongly convicted and imprisoned for involvement in a series of bomb attacks in the city.
It emerged that the West Midlands Police, under pressure from the British political establishment for swift convictions, had brutally abused the men into making false confessions.
The West Midlands Police have how applied for an order requiring Mr Mullin to disclose material relating to his investigation. A hearing is to take place in London later this month.
Mr Mullin said that disclosing his material would be a breach of the principle that journalists are entitled to protect their sources.
He said that “instead of framing the first half-dozen people unlucky enough to fall into their hands” the police could have carried out a proper investigation.
“It is beyond irony. They appear to have gone for the guy who blew the whistle.”
The European Court of Human Rights has previously backed journalists faced with similar actions, including Irish journalists. However, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has spent almost three years in Belmarsh jail in London while facing extradition on charges of protecting a source.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said the case against Mr Mullin risks undermining press freedom. “The principle of protecting your source and keeping your word when confidentiality is pledged is a vital one for all journalists,” they said.