NUJ Condemns Compulsory Redundancy of Union Activist

5th June, 2015


Phil Turner at the scene of the South Asia Earthquake in 2005. He travelled there with a number of Pakistanis from Rotherham to report on the devastation that affected so many families in the North of England. Photo © Guy Smallman

The NUJ has condemned a move by the Rotherham Advertiser to impose compulsory redundancy on long term Father of Chapel and union activist Phil Turner. This move is being seen as blatant victimisation of an activist whom has helped his chapel win and retain many agreements over the past few decades. Messages of support for Phil whom has worked at the publication for 30 years have been flooding in. Read more on the NUJ website here.

His colleagues have responded to his victimisation with a unanimous vote for strike action. Staff will be out this coming Thursday, June 11th, for 24 hours. There will be a picket line and we encourage all local NUJ and trade union members to support it. There will also be a rally this Saturday, June 5th, which we ask people to attend.

At our June meeting the LPB committee agreed a £100.00 donation to the strike fund which has been sent to the branch secretary at the Rotherham Advertiser. A motion will be put before the branch later this month.

Messages of support should be sent to

May Branch Meeting: Photographers & The Law

20th May, 2015

May 2015_500

6.00 pm Tuesday 26 May 2015, Headland House, 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP

This month’s discussion will look at some of the legal issues faced by photographers and videographers as they go about their work.  As speakers we will have two eminent lawyers.  Gavin Millar QC is a noted specialist in all areas of media law, including defamation, privacy, breach of confidence, publishing contempts and reporting restrictions. He often represents media outlets, journalists and politicians in both civil and criminal proceedings.  Shamik Dutta specialises in pursuing civil claims and public law challenges against the police and in enforcing the rights of those subject to unlawful immigration detention and unlawful deportation. He also acts for the families of individuals who have died in police and prison service custody.

The discussion will be followed by other items of branch business.

April Branch Meeting: Fighting for Press Freedom

21st April, 2015


6.00 pm Tuesday 28 April 2015, Headland House, 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP

For many years increasing evidence has pointed to police intelligence units’ interest in journalists whose work led them into contact with political and environmental protestors.  For this month’s branch discussion, five of the six NUJ members who fought to reveal that they were listed as “domestic extremists” on a secret police database will be coming in to talk about their experiences.

David Hoffman writes:  “Around the turn of the century the attention being paid to me and to my colleagues by police attached to the National Public Order Intelligence Unit became increasingly obvious. The Forward Intelligence Teams made it obvious that we were being targeted. They followed us around, filmed us close up while staring hard at us and did their best to intimidate us. Recordings of their comms made it clear that they saw us as ‘The Enemy’. Gathering intelligence would be done more subtly. This was designed to scare us off and to prevent us producing the reportage that we were getting published. Although this was flattering it was an anti-democratic abuse of police processes. As journalists we had to oppose it. Our current group legal action is one aspect of that opposition.”

NUJ Freelance member Adrian Arbib and NUJ LPB members David Hoffman, Jules Mattsson, Jess Hurd and Jason N. Parkinson will talk about what led to the exposing of their files, and the implications this spying has on press freedom in the UK and abroad.


March Branch Meeeting: Safety & Travel Security

22nd March, 2015


6.00 pm Tuesday 31 March 2015, Headland House, 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP

This month’s meeting will be packed with useful advice and tips for working lens-based journalists, and will also highlight related NUJ policy.

For most of us, operating alone out of town, or even out of the country, goes with the territory. For this discussion Matthew Aslett, one of our well traveled members will explain why the NUJ recommends Hostile Environment Training for certain situations, what other precautions to take in our day-to-day schedule, what research to undertake before leaving home, and how everything from a basic understanding of encryption to a good knowledge of the law can avoid costly and dangerous situations.

We will also hold elections for our vacant committee posts of Union Learning Representative and Equality Officer, should anyone wish to stand for them.


February Branch Meeting: Self-Publishing

17th February, 2015


6.00 pm Tuesday 24 February 2015, Headland House, 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP

At this month’s branch meeting we will be discussing self-publishing, a topic that proved very popular when we featured it a couple of years ago. We are really pleased to be welcoming back one speaker and bringing in a new one. Both will be giving illustrated presentations followed by questions from the floor. With more and more photographers exploring the possibilities created by the self publishing market, this meeting will look at its financial potential as well as the prospects for career profile and development.

Mohara Gill is the Art Buyer for Foyles flagship Charing Cross branch, the biggest and best known book shop in the UK. She has 15 years experience in book buying and selling and has personally developed the photography/self publishing section over the past few years. During that time she has witnessed how the business has changed, with more books going online while certain niche markets have expanded. She is uniquely placed to answer branch members’ questions about the possibilities of self-publishing and the potential market for our work. You can hear an interview with her here.

Marc Vallée is a London-based documentary photographer whose work focuses on the London graffiti scene, anti-skateboarding architecture, youth culture and political dissent. His work has been published and exhibited worldwide, and his self-published photography zines are stocked by many bookshops, including Claire de Rouen Books (London), Foyles (London), Flotsam Books (Tokyo), Rebel Unlit (Berlin), Ti Pi Tin Books (London), The Photographers’ Gallery (London) and Urban Spree Gallery (Berlin). In 2014 alone Marc published three zines: a second edition of Anti-Skateboarding Devices, which was featured in the Guardian and reviewed in Source Magazine; Queer, which documents two years in the life of writer and artist Dom Lyne at his home in Camden Town – tattoos, sexuality and mental health with a nod to American novelist Dennis Cooper; and Number Six, which explores the tension between public and private space in the context of contemporary youth culture. Marc also had a book, Millbank and that Van, published by Café Royal Books. Over 36 black and white pages the book documents the London 2010 student protests against government plans to raise tuition fees.  And he also collaborated on the huge 400 page Long Live Southbank book on the history and culture of the Undercroft skateboarding spot and the successful campaign to save it. More here.

Following the discussion we will be dealing with regular branch business.




Meeting with the Chief Inspector of the Pan London Task Force

5th February, 2015

I am pleased to report that earlier this week John Rogers and I attended our inaugural meeting with the Chief Inspector of the Pan London Task Force whose responsibilities include the Metropolitan Police Territorial Support Group (TSG) Marine Support Unit, Dog Section, Air Support Unit and Mounted Branch. Two other officers also attended the meeting from the same command. Those officers a SGT and PC are responsible for Training and Professional Standards. Our meeting exceeded the 90 minutes allocated time by nearly 45 minutes. Both John and I clearly explained what we do as Photojournalists/Press Photographers and police also explained what their role is.

The most astonishing fact that came out of the meeting was during the first 10 minutes when I presented them with copies of the MPS Media Guidelines. There was a look of utter surprise on their faces! I picked up on this and asked if they had seen them before? And to both the surprise and shock of both of us they freely admitted that they had not! This was discussed in detail and they acknowledged that they were made aware of them and that during briefings ahead of large events, demos and other jobs mention of the guidelines and the ability to facilitate Bona Fide News gatherers should be facilitated wherever possible. This fact is made clear to all officers present. (I have been to these briefings and can confirm this is correct) Police voiced their concern over the issue of Press Cards and feel that on occasion they are possibly issued too freely and possibly not to professional Bona Fide News gatherers.

In addition due to the numerous issuing Gate Keepers it is not always easy, in a fast moving volatile situation, to identify them straight away save for the word PRESS on the card. They also voiced concerns that if they themselves wish to make a complaint about the behavior, attitude and demeanor of a Press Card Holder where and how can they make this complaint? That is a good point well made by police. We all know as Bona Fide News gatherers and indeed members of the public we are able to make a complaint (s) against police and indeed know where and to do it which they accept and indeed have no problem with (This I can also verify) In fact the Chief Inspector made it abundantly clear that if any of us see a police officer NOT wearing shoulder ID Epaulettes/Name Badges we must complain.

Both John and myself have been invited back again in the near future to make a presentation to TSG officers in a wider forum.

The meeting was constructive, informative, educational and indeed a door opener for more educational dialogue which will clearly give police a much better understanding of what it is we do as professional Photojournalists/Photographers, as well as us learning something more about policing.

This I am sure through a process of discussion and education will enable us to do our jobs easier. I have now received feedback from police who stated that they felt the meeting was worthwhile and look forward to our forthcoming presentation and future meetings. Personally I have noticed a positive change of attitude for the better from police on the street. Thanks to John Rogers for his input on the day, which was invaluable.

Nigel Howard.



Working Lives #2: John Sturrock

29th January, 2015

This is the second video interview produced for the branch’s Working Lives project, which grew out of a discussion at a branch meeting in 2012, at the height of the furore surrounding the Hacked Off campaign and the Leveson enquiry. At the time, photographers of all kinds were being maligned as a result of allegations about the behaviour of a very small number of so-called paparazzi, and it seemed clear that the public at large had little idea of the great variety of work that photojournalists do on a daily basis.

In this video branch member John Sturrock, a freelance, talks about his working life, starting with his early work on social and political issues for the renowned Report photo agency in the mid-1970s, and going on to describe how he has adapted to the many changes in the industry over subsequent years, culminating in his current photography on major regeneration and construction projects.

A higher resolution version of this video can be viewed on the LPB Vimeo site, and the first interview in the series, with Anne-Marie Sanderson, chief photographer at North London and Herts News, can be seen here.




24th January, 2015

Here’s a brief report on what the Photographers’ Council has got up to this year. Our most important achievement has been to establish an authoritative voice for photographers throughout the union. This was – we were – crucial in getting rid of that one day course for reporters on taking “professional” (!!) pictures with their iPhones, before too many photographers had left the NUJ. This has now been replaced with, would you believe, a similar course teaching “ how to record audio and how to shoot video using your smartphone “, again, in one day! So it’s a good thing the last Council meeting agreed a survey to go out to all photographers ( and videographers, not that they’ll need it ) to find out what kind of training courses in professional – repeat, truly professional – videography they would like.

“Replacing professional photographers with “citizen” journalists, not to mention reporters and their iPhones, has unfortunately been the story of the year. Starting with Johnston Press and Local World, paper after local paper has made its staff photographers redundant. So the Council initiated training courses for staff photographers turning freelance. Which would not have been possible without the help of Freelance Organiser John Toner.

Two have been held so far, and I’m afraid we may well need repeats in the near future. We also initiated the recent NUJ counter blast to the Wellers’ as yet unsuccessful attempt to get photos of children if not banned outright then pixelated ( they keep moving their goal posts ).

And, Council members have now started a blog, first an opinion piece here, and a report from LPB’s John Rogers here.

The best is yet to come – we’re organising a conference for this October. All thoughts and suggestions welcome, to Council member for London Carole Edrich ( ).

Finally, the Council owes its thanks to our servicing officer Dominic Bascombe, and also to Simon Chapman and Pete Jenkins who jointly hold the NEC seat for Photographers, and fight our corner at every meeting.

Andrew Wiard –    

Chair, NUJ Photographers’ Council

(LPB members can read other reports prepared for the AGM on 27 January by logging in and going to the Members area of the website.  If you are not registered you can do so by emailing

Branch Meeting and AGM, Tuesday 27 January 2015

19th January, 2015


6.00 om Tuesday 27 January 2015, Headland House, 308-312 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8DP


This month’s branch meeting will afford members an opportunity to discuss the present state of our industry and how to survive in it.

2014 saw brutal redundancies across our industry, particularly for staff photographers. At the same time we applauded the NUJ for providing courses in freelancing for recently sacked photographers. Also one NUJ branch led the way when its reporters flatly refused to do work previously carried out by the likes of us. What 2015 holds for us remains to be seen.

This meeting will help equip our members to survive in a rapidly changing workplace. Our panel of experts will be responding to your questions rather making speeches, to allow for the maximum amount of time for discussion.  Stuart Freedman is a an award winning freelancer whom has worked all over the world and will soon be publishing a new book.  Antonio Olmos works on contract with the Guardian newspaper, also teaches and his Landscape of Murder project has been celebrated far & wide.  David Hoffman has perfected the art of running a successful picture library and getting the most from his stock.



Prior to the discussion we will be holding our Annual General Meeting, at which we will be electing a new committee – the people who will help organise branch activities over the next year.

New nominees are urgently needed. It’s a great way to contribute towards the running of the branch and its campaigning work, and to keep up to speed with the issues facing London’s lens journalists and the wider world of photojournalism.

There are eight posts to be filled: Chair, Vice-chair, Secretary, Membership Secretary, Treasurer, Welfare Officer, Equality Officer, and Union Learning Representative. The job titles are self-explanatory, but if you are thinking of standing and would like to know more, please contact one of the current committee members, either via the branch website or the branch Facebook page.

None of the responsibilities specific to each post involve a huge time commitment, and much of the committee’s business is discussed and decided collectively at the monthly meeting, or via email. Positions can be job-shared between individuals, and new-comers are warmly welcomed. No previous experience is necessary – there will be people available to help you. We pride ourselves in coming from a wide range of work and political backgrounds to ensure that all members feel represented.

Any full branch member can be nominated for a post. In addition, we have customarily also elected two, three or four additional members to offer general support. Temporary and Student members cannot hold a formal position, but in the past have been co-opted onto the committee in a non-portfolio role. Any branch member can come to the AGM without prior notice and ask to be nominated.

We will also be electing two auditors to check the branch accounts at the end of the financial year.

Over the five years of its existence, the London Photographers Branch has made a significant impact both within and beyond the union. A strong and active committee is essential if we are to continue to build on our successes.

Legal Action over Police Surveillance of Journalists

21st December, 2014

Police film me during a Media Workers Against The War demonstration

photo © David Hoffman          

Six NUJ members are at the centre of a landmark legal case, which is shining a light on the levels of surveillance employed by the state on journalists.

Comedian and broadcaster Mark Thomas, London Freelance Branch Member Adrian Arbib, and London Photographers Branch members Jules Mattsson, David Hoffman, Jess Hurd and Jason Parkinson have launched a legal action on unnecessary intrusion into their private lives.

The action being brought against the Metropolitan Police with the support of the NUJ is a Judicial Review, not aimed at obtaining compensation but intended to show that it is an unlawful practice, which undermines the freedom of the press. The journalists hope to reveal the extent of the surveillance, the reasons behind it and information as to whom it has been shared with.

The first stage to discover what information is held on them on police databases has yielded results that veer from surprising to disturbing. Although the bulk of the records have still not been disclosed, the small fragments so far revealed contain ludicrous detail about their clothing and demeanour. Even relatives’ medical records and sinister observations about one plaintiff’s sexuality have been found on these secret databases.

There is no suggestion that those involved are known to the police for any criminal activity, leading to questions about the reason for holding so much information and its implications for civil liberties. The official purpose of the database in question is to monitor domestic extremists who pose a clear threat to public safety. It appears to have been expanded to document journalists who have covered protest and dissent as part of their professional work.

Through solicitors Bhatt Murphy, instructed by the NUJ, the six journalists will ask the court to instruct the Metropolitan Police to reveal the full extent of the surveillance, what has been done with the data, with whom it has been shared, and then for it to be destroyed.

The legal action is currently on hold while the police appeal a previous court ruling that their surveillance of peace activist and water colourist John Catt was unlawful. Judgement on the police appeal is expected early next year.

The present case being brought by the six members is not the first time that the police have been scrutinised over this and similar issues. Back in 2008-10 NUJ members called the police to account for unwarranted surveillance and harassment. Two films were made about the issue and can be viewed here and here. In the light of recent events a third film is now in production. The London Photographers Branch agreed to help fund it at our November branch meeting and encourages other NUJ and Trade Union branches to do the same.







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