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Did the Sunday Times want to damage Huhne (& Pryce)?

Chris Huhne & Vicky Pryce would not be in prison today if the Sunday Times had not handed over information to the Police from a confidential source. Nick Cohen in an excellent piece at the Spectator rightly blames Isabel Oakeshott, its political editor, for breaking journalists’ first law and, he adds, their one moral principle to never betray a source, claiming that Vicky Pryce “had double-crossed me…. revealing all to a rival newspaper“.

The email trail between Oakshott and Pryce which was handed over to the police refers regularly to the story bringing Huhne down, or proving “fatal“, and the DPP regarded it as essential evidence in order to bring the case to court. Oakshott claimed: “The Sunday Times put up a vigorous fight in court. But eventually we were forced by a judge to give up the correspondence.” However, in fact, abandoned an appeal before they got to the first hurdle. David Allen Green, who blogs on legal matters at Jack of Kent, compares this with the Sarah Tisdall case in which the Guardian fought an order to hand over evidence all the way to the Court of Appeal. More importantly, he adds:

unlike the Guardian in the Tisdall case, the Sunday Times would have had the benefit of the Human Rights Act and Article 10 of the European Convention.  How would the appeal courts have dealt with such an appeal?  We will never know.

Then Green goes on to consider the implications:

As we do not know why the Sunday Times neither appealed or seek to judicially review the decision to grant the order, we cannot necessarily assume the worst.  But it is a cause for concern that the Sunday Times did not appeal an order which appears to have led directly to the conviction of a source. A newspaper surely should protect its sources to the fullest extent possible.  In not appealing, the Sunday Times appears not to have done this.

Who was it in the Murdoch empire who decided to throw the source they should have done their utmost to protect to the wolves?  And was their decision connected in some way with their source’s better known ex-husband, who no-one would be keener to send to the wolves than their coalition partners? Who knows?

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