Tuesday 13 December 2011

Police in legal bids to force journalists to hand over film of Dale Farm evictions and rioting in Derry

Police will today try to force news broadcasters and documentary-makers to hand over film of the eviction of travellers from the Dale Farm site in Essex, the Independent reports.

It says journalists working for BBC News, Panorama, and My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding are among those facing a production order that covers all film recorded during the two-day eviction in October. Essex police claim they need help to identify criminals who caused minor injuries to 11 officers.

The Independent says it has learned the force is keen to identify activists who wore orange boiler-suits at the eviction and that the order, made under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, has been denounced as a "fishing exercise" which would sever trust between journalists and traveller communities.

Video journalist Jason Parkinson, an NUJ member, is resisting an order to hand over Dale Farm film in court today.

The NUJ has spoken out against the move by the chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland to make a legal application to have the BBC and UTV hand over video recordings of rioting in Derry.

The union said it was "appalled" that the police are trying to get journalistic film of news events as it puts journalists at risk.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Journalists play a critical role in informing the public and covering civil unrest is already difficult. Our members have been attacked whilst doing their jobs. The danger increases if the footage gathered whilst reporting events is seized and used by the police. It is an attack on press freedom and turns photographers, videographers and journalists into potential targets.”

In September, the NUJ condemned the courts for forcing media organisations to supply riot film and photographs to the police.

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