Leading article: A long way from a threat to national security

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The Independent Online

To call it "worrying and upsetting" is to put it mildly. If anything, Hugh Grant's assessment of Scotland Yard's use of the Official Secrets Act to try to force a journalist to reveal their source does not go far enough.

A sense of desperation at Scotland Yard is understandable. The hacking scandal has proved almost as bad for the Metropolitan Police as it has for News International. First came the incompetence in handling the original investigation. Then the Commissioner was forced to resign over links with former journalists subsequently arrested over hacking. Then came the allegations – now the subject of Operation Elveden – that Met officers received "inappropriate payments" from journalists in return for information.

Given the earlier failures, it is not surprising the Met is now pushing its hacking investigation so hard. Indeed, it is right to do so. But it is a travesty to use laws designed to protect national security as a lever for accessing information, let alone from a newspaper bringing further details of the hacking affair to light. Under the leadership of Deputy Assistant Commissioner Sue Akers, Operation Weeting was just starting to claw back some credibility for the Met. The latest development suggests the police still do not know where the public interest lies.

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