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The Protection of Journalistic Sources - EC and ECHR Perspectives

31st October 2007

The Protection of Journalistic Sources: EC and ECHR Perspectives

High profile litigation involving Hans-Martin Tillack, an investigative journalist on the German news magazine 'Stern', is raising new questions about EU Institutional accountability and the protection of journalist's privilege. Following the publication of articles exposing corruption within the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) (based on allegations contained in confidential documents), OLAF's public allegations of bribery and its failure to identify the internal source of the leak, Belgian police authorities launched criminal investigations - raiding Mr Tillack's home and office and jeopardizing his career and professional reputation.

In proceedings before the CFI and ECJ, Mr Tillack sought to annul OLAF's transmission of allegations to police authorities and claimed compensation - both claims were dismissed. The EC litigation raised concerns about institutional accountability, appearing to give OLAF an unfettered capacity to transmit allegations - on any evidential basis - to national authorities as such transmissions have no binding legal effect.

The issue of journalists' ability to protect their sources (Article 10 ECHR) provides the focus for the latest stage of the litigation, currently pending before the European Court of Human Rights. Members of Mr Tillack's legal team will outline the current case and widen the discussion to debate current issues concerning the protection of journalistic sources.

This seminar will clarify the factual background to the caselaw - often misrepresented in press reports; review the judgment of the Court of First Instance (Case T-193/04, Tillack v Commission, 4 October 2005) which focused on the EC administrative law aspects; discuss Mr Tillack's pending litigation before the European Court of Human Rights challenging Belgian press laws (App. No. 20477/05, Tillack v Belgium); and explore recent trends and developments in the field of journalist's privilege.

Hans-Martin Tillack v Commission of the European Communities, Case T-193/04, CFI, judgment of 4 October 2006 is available online at:

This event is kindly sponsored by:

3.5 CPD hours


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