Thursday 12 January 2012

Belfast court backs BBC over Real IRA parade film

The NUJ has welcomed the decision of the Belfast Recorder not to order the BBC to hand over video shot at a Real IRA parade in Derry in April 2011 to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

Judge Tom Burgess ruled that he had been given insufficient evidence by the police to prove the video could assist experts in identifying masked men and that the PSNI had failed to show that the video would be of substantial value in its investigation.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said the ruling was “extremely significant” and expressed the hope that it would “send a signal to the PSNI that trawling exercises had no place in police investigations.” The police had claimed it could be used to identify masked men by the way they walked or by facial features under balaclavas. The case arose after 10 men dressed in paramilitary uniform paraded in Derry's City cemetery at a 32 County Sovereignty movement commemoration.

The BBC challenged the application for the handing over of unbroadcast material, on the grounds doing so would endanger its staff. The BBC also claimed that the PSNI was fully aware of the likely nature of the parade and had failed to prevent it or film it themselves.

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