The NUJ and other media organisations have won the judicial review at the Court of Appeal following the decision by Chelmsford Crown Court to grant the Dale Farm footage production order. The decision to force journalists to hand over unbroadcast footage has been overturned.
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary said: “Today is a huge victory for the cause of press freedom and the protection of sources and journalistic material. We are incredibly pleased that the NUJ and other media organisations have won the High Court battle against the police production order to force journalists to hand over their Dale Farm eviction footage.”
Jason Parkinson, who challenged the order said: “This ruling to overturn the Crown Court’s decision to grant the Dale Farm production order sends a very clear message to all police forces that these wide-ranging fishing trips will not be accepted by the UK courts and that we will not be forced into to role of unwilling agents of the state. We are not there as evidence gatherers to fill police intelligence databases with hours of material on activists or protestors, we are journalists and we are there to report the news and keep the public informed.
In the last 18 months, every time one of these orders has been served it has put journalists in greater danger while trying to report on public order situations. I know this because I have been threatened and assaulted by people claiming my material will be used by the police. I am very happy to see Judge Moses has recognised the impact these orders have on the safety and impartiality of all journalists and has made sure any future production order applications must take this into account, as was clearly not the case this time round.”
This victory would not have been possible without the support of the NUJ legal team and campaign department. Special thanks to our General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet for her support, Roy Mincoff from the NUJ legal department, Sarah Kavanagh and Frances Rafferty from the NUJ campaign department, Martin Rackstraw from Bindmans Solicitors, Gavin Millar QC and all our campaign supporters.
We should not underestimate the significant stress and energy that go in to challenging such production orders, especially for freelancers, whose reputation and safety is on the line. It is extremely important that the High Court has acknowledged and reinforced the independent role of frontline journalists and their safety in gathering the news for future public order situations.