A journalist told by Scotland Yard that he could be arrested for trying to interview a convicted fraudster has warned that press freedom is under threat after launching an appeal to clear his name.
Gareth Davies said he had received a prevention of harassment warning from the Metropolitan Police after a single visit to the home of a woman who had just admitted ripping off customers to the tune of more than £230,000 as her discount flight business fell apart.
Mr Davies, chief reporter at the Croydon Advertiser, had compiled evidence that Neelam Desai had also conned people in a dating website scam and went to her house to seek comment. But she called 999 and complained that she was being harassed after a string of stories about her crimes in the newspaper.
Three officers subsequently visited the paper’s office in March last year with a warning notice – usually used for cases of domestic abuse – based largely on the word of Desai who is currently serving 30 months in jail for crimes of dishonesty. Mr Davies says police did not investigate her claims, which he contests.
Which really speaks for itself about the state of press freedom in the UK and how its police now view their role (defending criminals and fraudsters from the media; the only difference between Desai and a banker is one of scale). Meanwhile, the rest of us can only look on in horror.