World

European court backs Swiss reporters' use of hidden cameras to expose wrongdoing

Four Swiss journalists have won a case before the European Court of Human Rights over their use of hidden cameras.

The reporters had used the cameras as part of a 2003 investigative documentary about misleading advice provided by insurance brokers.

Zurich's regional court in 2007 ordered the journalists, from Swiss public television SRF, to pay fines for violating the privacy of one insurance broker. The verdict was confirmed by Switzerland's highest court.

The Strasbourg, France-based European Court of Human Rights said Tuesday that the interference in the broker's private life wasn't serious enough to override the public's interest in learning about malpractice in the insurance industry.

It said the Swiss courts' decision could "discourage the media from expressing criticism" and that the journalists' right to free speech had been violated.