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Report No. 93

IV. Obligation of Disclosure-extent of

4.16. No general duty in England.-

The above discussion shows that there is, in England now a limited legal obligation to disclose the source, if the competent authority considers such disclosure necessary. This limited obligation is governed by section 10 of the Contempt of Courts Act, 1981. At the same time, it should be remembered that there is no general duty of disclosure on all occasions. Except when required by a competent authority, a journalist cannot be required to disclose the source3 of his information. Thus, in 1963, the Finance Committee of the Brierely Hill Urban District Committee demanded to know the names of a newspaper's reporter and his informant responsible for a story which gave advance information about a proposed increase in the local rate. The editor of the paper said that he had "not the slightest intention" of disclosing them.1

In 1938, the dominant Labour group on the Glassgow Corporation were minded to take some action (unspecified) against a city journalist, who had published details contained in a confidential document about proposed increase in council house rents. The group also desired to take action against his informant. They were, however, powerless to do anything about the former, and unable to ascertain the latter.1

1. Anthony Richards Law for Journalists, (1977), p. 83.

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