Following the case that lasted several months spanning 2011 and 2012 at Chelmsford Crown Court and the subsequent ruling against those involved, I can now report the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has submitted an appeal to challenge the production order forcing journalists, media organisations and broadcasters to submit all their footage to the police.
The legal challenge is in response to a court decision requiring those involved to comply with the production order and hand over all footage gathered over the first two days of the Dale Farm eviction to Essex police.
In today’s press release those applying for appeal in addition to myself are the BBC, ITN, BskyB, Hardcash Productions.
As I wrote back in December, by being forced to comply with the production order I am being forced into breaching my own union’s ethical code, but I am also to be forced into being an unwilling agent of the state.
NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “This is an attack on press freedom and turns photographers, videographers and journalists into potential targets. Journalists are not there to carry out investigatory work for the police.”
John Domokos, video producer for Guardian.co.uk said: “We are very concerned about this production order as we believe it will not only seriously jeopardise his safety and ability to cover future events of this nature, but also affect the safety and impartiality of all video journalists.”
Roy Mincoff, NUJ legal officer said if the production order reporters and photographers will “be seen merely as evidence gatherers for the police, with major consequences for their ability to report objectively and impartially in the future. The vital role of the media as the public watchdog, so important to a democratic society, would be seriously undermined.”
But it is not just the NUJ who, are concerned about the future implications for journalists. In a statement this afternoon ITN Chief Executive Officer John Hardie said, “the wide-ranging Dale Farm production order is in danger of becoming the norm and we are alarmed at the frequency and nature of these requests.”
He added that they were also resisting a separate production order to obtain footage from the recent Syrian Embassy protest that ended in 24 arrests for violence and trespass.
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