Journalists and civil liberties groups have denounced UK government plans to replace the Official Secrets Act with an Espionage Act which would increase the potential penalty for journalists receiving leaked official documents from two to 14 years in jail.

Such documents could include for the first time sensitive information about the economy such as a report on the economic consequences of Brexit.

Jodie Ginsberg, chief executive of Index on Censorship, said: “The proposed changes are frightening and have no place in a democracy, which relies on having mechanisms to hold the powerful to account.”

Read more: Journalists who obtain leaked official material could be sent to prison under new proposals