Police tip-offs to press slammed by lawyers

Defence lawyers have called for legislation to govern the way the police deal with the media to stop leaks prejudicing high profile cases before they go to court.

A recent series of police tip-offs to journalists about celebrities involved in high profile cases have infuriated defence lawyers who say their clients are being unfairly and unjustly treated.

“Police have enormous powers to investigate people, but there is no legislative code which governs the way they deal with the media,” said Christian Fisher senior partner Louise Christian. “Given the fact they have access to such an enormous amount of confidential information, there ought to be.”

Stephens Innocent senior partner Mark Stephens says the issue of the police leaking information was “one of the most important in the criminal justice system”.

He says despite making five complaints to the Police Complaints Authority he has not found out who had tipped off a tabloid that drugs had been found under the bed of his client Paula Yates.

See feature on page 22.