SCOTLAND Yard was hammered in the High Court yesterday for trying to access a journalist’s laptops and phones.
In a major win for the free press, a judge quashed the Met Police attempt.
It tried to force a freelancer to give access to the tech in a hunt for leaked secret government documents.
Counter-terror officers raided the reporter’s house and confiscated equipment following newspaper articles that embarrassed ministers.
Journalists’ sources are meant to be protected by the law but the Met argued national security should trump that sacred rule.
The legal wranglings were held in secret.
The wronged reporter, whose identity must remain anonymous, is named only as LXP.
Officers in court said two individuals who worked for the Crown were LXP’s sources.
They argued that material had, in effect, been stolen from the Government.
But Lady Justice Macur ruled the Met breached domestic law and the European Convention on Human Rights.
LXP’s lawyers Bindmans said after: “LXP has asked me to thank publicly the National Union of Journalists and Free Speech Union for their invaluable support in this matter.
“They have also asked me to express their profound gratitude for the support provided by The Sun, Associated Newspapers, Telegraph Media Group, and Jewish Chronicle.”
A Government source said: “Press freedom should always be at the front and centre of our considerations.
“This looks like a concerning case and careful thought should be given to any next steps.”