At least for now, the Metropolitan Police has called off its application for The Guardian to disclose journalistic sources - see the Met. Police News Statement of 20th September. As discussed in the previous post (here), the application was to be based on the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 s.9. In a further development, the Met. has been called to explain its actions to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee - see The Guardian 21st September. The Guardian's revelations about phone-hacking are a good example of investigative journalism bringing iniquity to the attention of the public. The protection offered by law to journalistic sources is important - see Law and Lawyers post. However, there is also an important point of principle relating to the confidentiality of information in the possession of the Police. The law, rightly, also protects that information from unauthorised disclosure and prosecutions under the Official Secrets Acts are a possibility. At times, these principles come into collision. However, at least for now, the dogs of war remain in their kennels.
The stand-off between Basildon Council and "travellers" ensconced at Dale Farm almost came to a head on Monday 19th September but, after a further High Court hearing, the bailiffs were stood down for the time being. What of the actual decisions in the courts? Three years ago, the matter was considered by Collins J in McCarthy and others v Basildon District Council  EWHC 987 (Admin). The Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened in the case. Collins J, who was presented with 23 lever arch files of material, gave a very detailed history of the situation and held that enforcement could not proceed immediately. He concluded by saying:
This matter has attracted international attention - see Institute of Race relations "Gypsy and Traveller evictions: Dale Farm odyssey continues" - Frances Webber 30th November 2010. Whatever the British government's stance, there is a very serious problem to be addressed. Steps taken, by various governments, have not proved to be sufficient to address this growing problem. As the Court of Appeal pointed out:
Channel 4's Dispatches programme looked at the problem on Monday evening 19th September - "The Fight for Dale Farm
The film showed furious residents across Britain campaigning about the way gypsies pitch camp illegally in local parks, the damage that they cause to public and private property as well as the mess and destruction that they leave behind. Attention was drawn to criminality as well as, in some cases, a threat to public health by the use of wooded areas as toilets. Some local authority sites were also shown to have absymally poor facilities. The programme also questioned whether Government proposals to crack down on unauthorised development will change the situation for better or worse, and explored the ever growing issues that local councils face as and when, under present government policy, they are given more freedom to decide on just how many places should be allocated for travellers in their areas.
Again, the dogs of war were brought out but returned, temporarily at least, to their kennels. As and when the eviction is complete, the letter of the law will have been upheld but the problem will remain unsolved and will undoubtedly move on to some other site.
Addendum 26th September: Dale Farm residents win temporary reprieve - The Guardian
Cry "Havoc !" and let slip the dogs of war ... William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar Act 3 Scene 1.