Wednesday, 25 April 2012
Welcome for judicial review of Dale Farm orders
Video journalist Jason Parkinson (pictured) was joined by NUJ members at the Royal Courts of Justice in London today in support of the judicial review of the Dale Farm production orders which require the media to hand over unbroadcast matrial of the evictions at the farm.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said: "The NUJ welcomes the decision to allow the judicial review to proceed. The media played a critical public interest role in reporting on Dale Farm and the case will have significant implications for the whole of our industry.
"Journalists are put in danger if footage gathered whilst reporting events is seized and used by the police. The NUJ's code of conduct compels the union – and our members - to defend a vital principle, the protection of journalistic sources and material. This case is a defence of press freedom - journalists are not evidence gatherers for the police."
Parkinson said: "Since November 2010, the storming of the Conservative headquarters at Millbank, we have seen a dramatic increase in the use of production orders. Every public order incident since then, one news outlet or another has had the proverbial knock at the door. Coincidentally the increase in production orders happened at the same time police and press relations seemed to improve on the ground. Gaining passage through police cordons was no longer a problem. Press cards were being respected. Overt surveillance by Forward Intelligence Teams seemed to stop. It was almost as if they wanted us there.
"On Tuesday 1 November 2011 I received an email from Essex police stating I was being served an order to obtain all my footage from the first two days of the Dale Farm eviction. That came 38 minutes after a separate email from Essex police press office asking to use my footage for "training purposes". They even offered me a visit to their in-house television unit.
"The union's own code of conduct lists the protection of sources and all journalistic material as a fundamental part of journalist ethics and in turn a fundamental part of our democracy. The ability to report free from state interference and indeed report on the state and hold them to account is the corner stone of what makes our democracy. When this was raised at Chelmsford Crown Court during the application hearing, prosecuting counsel said I held a "very extreme view" for defending that code of conduct. But it's not just the NUJ or myself, claiming to be holding these extreme views. Across the board - Sky News, the BBC and ITN - all have said enough is enough with these fishing exercises.
"That is why I have opposed this production order and stood to uphold the NUJ Code of Conduct and protect all journalist sources and all material."
The judicial review is on behalf of Jason Parkinson and the BBC, ITN, BskyB and Hardcash Productions.
Pic: David Hoffman