Ofgem has confirmed that it will cease its efforts to obtain additional information from The Times newspaper regarding its undercover investigation, which revealed cases of prepayment meters (PPMs) being installed in individuals’ homes against their will.
The regulator’s U-turn comes after the Energy Secretary told Sky News that the regulator should not be pursuing journalists at The Times for information or issuing threats of any sort.
Grant Shapps said: “Journalists in this country do an incredible job of exposing problems, holding people like me and others to account. I will always been on the side of the freedom of our press.
“Ofgem, who are a regulator, need to fix the problems that were uncovered, not be pursuing, or threatening to pursue journalists who have uncovered these things.
“I would say that the regulator should have been finding itself, it shouldn’t be pursuing journalists. It is wrong for them to be pursuing journalists.”
In response to the news, Paul Morgan-Bentley, Head of the investigations at The Times tweeted: “Ofgem sent me a legal notice requesting my journalistic notes, under threat of criminal sanction.
“This was after I went undercover to expose British Gas breaking into customers’ homes. I’m glad the threat is rescinded and they can focus on regulating energy firms.”
An Ofgem spokesperson told ELN: “We are working with The Times to resolve this issue amicably and in a way that ensures we can do everything possible to protect vulnerable customers, which has always been our top priority.
“As such, we will rescind the legal demands and aim to work with The Times on a voluntary basis.”