NUJ Opposes Boris Byelaws

1st February, 2012

Letter to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport
cc’d Mayors Office & City Hall Press Office

Dear Sir

The National Union of Journalists, London Photographers’ Branch notes with great concern the proposed introduction of new byelaws covering Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square. We are specifically concerned with the restrictions on press photography in these areas without prior written consent:

“Acts within the Square for which written permission is required: take photographs or film or make any other recordings of visual images for the purpose of or in connection with a business, trade, profession or employment or any activity carried on by a person or body of persons, whether corporate or unincorporate.”

This is wholly unacceptable to our members and we are protesting in the strongest terms against this infringement on our right to photograph in a public place.

We are also alarmed by the prospect of fines, “forfeiture of any item seized under bylaw” and giving security guards/heritage wardens the power to demand names and addresses. The production of a UKPCA press card should be sufficient to establish a journalists identity.

These GLA proposals are impractical and if enforced will have a massive impact on news gathering and press freedom. We urge you to consider our objections.

Yours Faithfully

Jess Hurd (London Photographers’ Branch Chair)


5 Responses:

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  2. I think it’s absolutely wrong to ban photography in what are some of the most public places you can imagine, and absolutely right to campaign against it.
    However, are the parts which talk about needing written permission for photography entirely new ? For example, this link is from November 2009, and if you scroll through it to page 8, it quotes the bylaws in place at that time. The paragraph you quote above was in force then for both Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square Garden in legislation which was dated 2000. My understanding is that there was an assurance at the time from the then mayor than this would not affect press photography.
    That’s not to say it is right – far from it – just that arguing that this legislation is new might give someone a chance to dismiss as inaccurate what might otherwise be very compelling arguments to not restrict photography.

  3. Jess Hurd says:

    Yes Bylaws existed previously in Traf Sq, the NUJ had to challenge them because photographers were being obstructed and abused by heritage wardens. We had an agreement with the previous mayor that press were exempt.
    The current mayor has asked the Dept for Culture, Media and Sport for much more far reaching draconian powers, one element of these new laws will prohibit photography without prior agreement and give the enforcers more power.

    Why would they ask for these laws if they were not going to use them? Why should we accept draconian law?

    We have a chance to influence this decision, hence the letter.

  4. Marc Vallée says:

    The photography part of the Trafalgar Square bylaws are not new. I think they date back to around 2000. Maybe even earlier.

    Also we knew about the bylaws when we held the 3,000 strong I’m a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! flashmob in Trafalgar Square in 2010. I’m surprised by the memory loss.

    Plus Article 10 would/should protect the press and media. Maybe time for a test case? Saying that the bylaws should be scrapped and the public realm reclaimed for all.

    This should be done with the facts.

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