Police request reporter’s records

JANUARY 19, 2006
Posted January 31, 2006

Bill Dunphy, The Hamilton Spectator

Police asked a judge to order Dunphy, a senior reporter for the Hamilton, Ontario, daily, to turn over all records of his interviews with a convicted criminal. Police are investigating a 1998 murder of a local lawyer and her husband. They are seeking Dunphy’s interviews because they believe the convicted criminal to be involved in the murder, The Hamilton Spectator reported.

A provision of the Canadian Criminal Code enacted in September 2004 allows a judge to order a person to turn over to the police any documents related to an investigation, Paul Morse, a reporter for The Hamilton Spectator, told CPJ. The law applies to journalists and their work product, he said.

Penalties for not complying include fines of up to 250,000 Canadian dollars (US$218,000), six months in jail, or both. According to The Hamilton Spectator, this is the first time that a media outlet is to be subjected to the new provision.

The newspaper has opposed the police bid and the judge is waiting to hear arguments in the case. The judge can decide whether to grant the police request or overturn the motion.