The Guardian’s Gill Philips on steering the paper through choppy waters

It isn’t often that a US president changes policy based on stories in a UK newspaper. But that is exactly what President Obama did when he set out reforms for data collection and surveillance on Friday following a series of revelations about the National Security Agency in The Guardian.

Getting those global stories into print isn’t easy, as The Guardian head of editorial legal services Gill Philips can attest to. But then, Philips has steered the paper through some challenging legal times.

“Since I’ve arrived, it seems to have been non-stop,” she tells us. “We’ve had Trafigura, phonehacking, WikiLeaks, Leveson, Snowden – it just hasn’t stopped.”

The sheer volume of paper behind such stories is mountainous. In the case of Wikileaks, for example, the number of cables passed to the paper ran to more than 250,000 and ­emanated from more than 250 US embassies and consulates around the globe. The text files ran to hundreds of millions of words, while 97,070 of the documents were classified as ­confidential.

It is a legal minefield, no wonder Philips says the threat of being sued by an obscure foreign litigant is the biggest challenge the paper faces.

That should bring it all into perspective on a Tuesday lunchtime now, shouldn’t it?

P.S. Lawyer 2B’s live webcast on commercial awareness is at 6pm tomorrow evening and is a must-watch for students. Register for free at this link.

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