United Kingdom

United Kingdom

A worrying trend

Despite improvements in some areas and the presence of a robust independent media, the UK remained one of the worst-ranked Western European countries in the World Press Freedom Index, largely due to a heavy-handed approach towards the press, often in the name of national security. The menacing Investigatory Powers Act remained on the books with insufficient protection mechanisms for whistleblowers, journalists, and their sources. In September, the UK’s mass surveillance regime was found to violate the European Convention on Human Rights, including with respect to the protection of journalistic sources. New counter-terrorism and crime legislation was introduced that would restrict reporting and put journalists’ data – and their ability to guarantee source protection – at risk. The government continued to explore means of restricting encryption tools. In March, then-Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Matt Hancock announced that the threatening Section 40 of the Crime and Courts Act 2013 would not be implemented, and the government would seek repeal at the “first appropriate opportunity” – which has not yet happened. The adoption of Magnitsky legislation via an amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act in May was a welcome step towards holding press freedom predators to account, but is not yet being implemented. In September, journalists Trevor Birney and Barry McCaffrey were arrested in Northern Ireland, had their journalistic materials confiscated, and remain on police bail in connection with the police investigation into the ‘Loughinisland massacre’.

in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index



40 in 2018

Global score


23.25 in 2018

  • 0
    journalists killed in 2020
  • 0
    citizens journalists killed in 2020
  • 0
    media assistants killed in 2020
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