Statement from Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu:
“The Metropolitan Police respects the rights of the media and has no intention of seeking to prevent editors from publishing stories in the public interest in a liberal democracy. The media hold an important role in scrutinising the actions of the state.
“We are however a body charged with enforcing the law, and we have received legal advice that has caused us to start a criminal enquiry into the leak of these specific documents as a potential breach of the Official Secrets Act (OSA). The focus of the investigation is clearly on identifying who was responsible for the leak.
“However, we have also been told the publication of these specific documents, now knowing they may be a breach of the OSA, could also constitute a criminal offence and one that carries no public interest defence.
“We know these documents and potentially others remain in circulation.
“We have a duty to prevent as well as detect crime and the previous statement was intended to alert to the risk of breaching the OSA.”