On Friday afternoon, 16 March 2012, we received conformation that the application for judicial review on the Dale Farm production was accepted by the High Court.
Following the October 2011 eviction police served production orders on all professional camera teams that covered the operation at the Dale Farm Irish Travellers site at Cray’s Hill in Essex. The court orders were to deliver all the footage shot over two days.
After four months of fighting off the production order and losing the first round in Chelmsford Crown Court, the successful application is next hurdle successsfully passed in what LPB Vice Chair Andrew Wiard called “the most important legal case we [NUJ photographers] have fought in years”.
In a statement on Friday NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “The media played a critical public interest role in reporting on Dale Farm and the case will have significant implications for the whole of our industry.”
The application success comes just days after ITN CEO John Hardie said in a statement: “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.”
ITN head of compliance John Battle told the Guardian: “If we are successful [at judicial review] it would set an important precedent and would hopefully show the police that broadcasters do have a right to report independently and impartially and that should be respected.”
The BBC and BSkyB have also expressed serious concern over the dramatic increase in production orders being served on the press. The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) told the Guardian this is because of the increase in public disturbances since the Summer riots.
The Judicial Review hearing is expected to start after Easter.