Wednesday 31 August 2011

NUJ urges media to go to court over riot material

The NUJ has called on media organisations and journalists to ensure that the police use the proper procedures if they wish to see unbroadcast or unpublished coverage of the rioting and civil unrest earlier this month.

The Guardian has reported that newspapers and broadcasters, including Sky News and the Guardian, have come under pressure from the Metropolitan Police to hand over all videos and pictures related to the London riots earlier this month.

It says ITN, which produces ITV News and Channel 4 News, The Times and also the BBC are among the media organisations resisting efforts by Scotland Yard to obtain material filmed during the riots that "could show crime in action".

The NUJ wants all media organisations to make strong representations to the court to protect the confidentiality of Journalistic Material and Special Procedure Material under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and under the European Convention on Human Rights.

The NUJ said there are special protections for journalistic material and procedures that the police should follow and the NUJ will seek to defend the confidentiality of journalist's material and sources.

It said: "The NUJ has a long and proud record in fighting to protect journalists faced with actions over sources or journalistic material. It is important we do not allow the police to use journalists as information gatherers for their purposes. Such a move places all journalists at greater risk when covering public order issues and stops sources coming forward.

"The NUJ stance has been confirmed in various cases before the UK and European courts. Journalists have been attacked during the civil unrest and the union believes that attempts to compel journalists to provide evidence to the police will put our members at risk.

"Covering protests, both nationally and internationally, is already difficult and often dangerous for journalists. The danger increases if the images and video gathered whilst reporting events is used by the state. With many accounts of injuries and equipment damage already reported, the calls from politicians to hand-over press material will only increases the risks."

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