Parliamentary Seminar: Who’s Afraid of Photographers?

10th December, 2010

Wednesday 27 October 2010 saw the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) seminar “Who’s Afraid of Photographers?” held in parliament. The meeting was set into three themed elements with an introductory speech by Liberal Democrat MP Don Foster.

MP Don Foster spoke of the importance of both professional and amateur photography, highlighted the misuse of various laws by police to restrict and stop public photography and called for Section 44 of the Terrorism Act to be repealed.

The first section of the seminar was entitled, “What makes you think you can take my picture?” and chaired by Jenny Lennox, NUJ Assistant Organiser.

Professor Chris Frost, Head of Journalism at Liverpool John Moores University started the debate. Better known as the chair of the NUJ’s Ethics Council, Professor Frost looks into the regulators that photographers could come into contact with, the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) and OFCOM.

Hickman and Rose solicitor Anna Mazzola poured over the various laws that can and have been used against photographers, including the increasing use of existing laws to protect privacy.

Chair of the London Photographers’ Branch (LPB) Jess Hurd introduced the second session, “Which law would that be officer?”

The session then followed on with the NUJ commissioned film Press Freedom: Hostile Reconnaissance by Jason N. Parkinson.

Chez Cotton, Head of the Police Misconduct Department at Bindmans LLP, talked about the guidelines already in place, which have been agreed by all police forces in the UK, to protect journalists and photographers and cites three cases of police restricting or halting members of the press from their work.

Photographer and branch member David Hoffman documented his experiences of increasing police brutality from the 1970’s to the G20 demonstrations of 2009.

In the final section, “How to change attitudes?” NUJ Freelance Organiser John Toner summarised the day’s seminar.

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