Just over a decade ago, when I was a freelance journalist, three police officers from the Greater Manchester police terrorism unit came knocking at my door. When I asked why they had shown up at my flat, they told me they wanted to talk to me about the book I was in the middle of writing. Not the kind of thing you’d expect to hear in a democracy, where the writing of books should never be the concern of the police.
After I let them in, they served me with a draft order instructing me to give them all of my source materials — recordings, notes, transcripts — pretty much everything I’d created in the course of my reporting of terrorism. Of course, journalists don’t give up their sources. We don’t hand over notes and recordings for fear of betraying those which we have promised confidences to. So I fought it. And a few months later I was sitting before three of the most senior judges in the U.K. listening to their verdict.