There's too little conviction behind the Sun arrests

Law-breaking journalists deserve to be punished: but there's been a lot of police theatricals for not much of a result

Let's assume that when journalists break the criminal law, they deserve to be caught, tried and punished (unless there's some manifest public interest argument to be deployed). Let's also assume that the police need to be particularly punctilious when investigating journalism's lousy practices. The Sun's two-year scorecard so far, then: 59 reporters and newsdeskers arrested, with all the usual 6am knock-on-the-door theatre; 12 cleared – including two more last week, one of them after a year of waiting for his case even to be referred to the Crown Prosecution Service – plus 24 charged, and 23 still hanging around under a cloud waiting to know what's going to happen.

There's a natural tendency here to link one thing with another and somehow wrap the Sun's travails in tentacles of a debate involving the defunct News of the World and the far-from-defunct David Miranda imbroglio. But keep the facts and figures separate and any concerned journalist ought to grow uneasy. Too many florid-then-abandoned arrests. Too many inordinate delays. Too little information. There's a wider public interest in police behaving thoughtfully when journalism is (prospectively) in the dock. It's depressing to seek it and look in vain. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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