The following motion was passed at the London Photographers’ Branch on Tuesday 26 February 2013.
The London Photographers’ Branch notes with serious concern the proposals for government changes to Special Procedure Material and protection of journalistic sources under the 1984 Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE).
During the Leveson inquiry the Metropolitan police urged Lord Justice Leveson to weaken laws protecting journalistic material, sources and whistleblowers. Although the police would still need to apply to a judge for a Production Order under PACE, the new proposals would allow police to seize journalistic material without first proving they have attempted to get evidence elsewhere.
This overturns the 2012 Dale Farm ruling by Judge Moses in the Royal Courts of Justice, legitimising the previous unlawful use of Production Orders. The ability to seize Special Procedure Material would become a simple matter of legal routine, drastically damaging UK press freedom and independence from the police and state.
It is likely to breach the European Convention on Human Rights and contrary to existing European and UK case law.
The London Photographers’ Branch opposes these government proposals to amend PACE and calls on the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) to respond robustly to the government and calls for dialogue with news organisations, broadcasters and other trade unions to build a united opposition.