Posts Tagged ‘Bindmans’

Audio – Digital Data Security

21st November, 2012

 

Digital Data Security from London Photographers’ Branch on Vimeo.

Due to a technical error the first part of the meeting was unfortunately not recorded.

August Meeting: Digital Data Security

21st August, 2012

6pm, 28th August 2012, NUJ, 308 Gray’s Inn Road

Technology and widespread Internet access encourage instant freedom of communication and organisation on a level previously thought impossible. We’ve seen the impact of these new ways of organising across the Middle East last year and in many situations closer to home. But there’s a sinister, dangerous side to these technologies where companies and governments can access, use and block data to censor, spy on, follow or hurt those trying to distribute it.

We’ve seen the state simply turning off communications in Egypt, the Syrian military targeting and killing journalist Marie Colvin and her colleagues after locating them through their data transmissions, and journalists having data cards, tapes and computer equipment taken or destroyed in many other countries. This meeting will cover two aspects of data security; the technological side of encryption, backup, secure transmission & ensuring data file integrity as well as the legal side of the laws relating to the state accessing and retaining your information, police surveillance and monitoring activities, your Data Protection obligations and protection from seizure of journalistic material as evidence.

Speaking will be Anna Mazzola & Athalie Matthews from Bindmans LLP as well as a Q&A on technology with photographers Edward Hirst & Jules Mattsson.

Please do RSVP on facebook here and invite interested colleagues, our panel meetings are open to all.

Olympics Legal Guidelines

17th July, 2012

The National Union of Journalists has been assured that there will be no press freedom issues during the Olympics with security guards, police or the military. This know-your-rights guide is designed to help if things go wrong. Download pdf version

 

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Dale Farm Production Order Overturned

17th May, 2012

 

Video journalist Jason N. Parkinson with NUJ supporters outside the Royal Courts of Justice before the Dale Farm production order judicial review. © Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk

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.

Press Clippings:

Read Guardian, Independent, ITN, BBCPress Gazette articles.

 

 

Met Apology for Photographer’s Parade Arrest

9th December, 2011

Police officers block Jules's camera, dislodging a lens hood, during the incident. photo Jules Mattsson

The London Photographers’ Branch congratulates its member Jules Mattsson in winning his case against the actions of the Met police when he was covering an Armed Forces Day parade in Romford last year. Jules kept calm, recorded the incident and argued for his rights in an intimidating encounter with the police. During the encounter he was abused, assaulted and threatened under the Terrorism Act and falsely imprisoned. Jules was 15 at the time and a student but had the support of branch officials at the scene and the national union in successfully pursuing justice with the help of leading civil rights solicitor and friend of the NUJ, Chez Cotton.

NUJ Legal Officer Roy Mincoff said:

“This was very poor and unlawful behaviour by a senior police officer, trying to intimidate a young NUJ photographer. It is not acceptable conduct, has no place in the police force and is hardly likely to gain respect for the police amongst the youth of the UK. The police have now recognised this, apologised and compensated our member. The NUJ will continue to hold the police to account to ensure that the vital rights of journalists, enshrined in law, are upheld, to enable reporting and photographing to continue, as part of the democratic framework of our society.”

Read the full Bindmans statement:

Met Commissioner compensates journalist arrested for taking photographs in public place and told to stop “running round acting silly, being stupid and gay”

 

Police Powers Seminar

11th October, 2011

Police powers of arrest, detention and seizure for journalists.

An NUJ members only event with Bindmans Solicitors

Date: Thursday 17 November 2011 Venue: 275 Gray’s Inn Road, London Time: 5.20 pm to 7.10 pm

Introduction

This free seminar organised by Bindmans LLP and the NUJ will explore the issues surrounding ‘a free press’ and the protection afforded to journalists in relation to the criminal justice system. It will offer practical guidance on police powers and investigations. Read the rest of this entry »

“We can do anything under the terrorism act”

10th December, 2010

NUJ press release on branch Chair Jess Hurd‘s successful IPCC complaint:

The NUJ has hit out at police claims they ‘can do anything under the Terrorism Act’, following the success of photographer Jess Hurd in a complaint to the Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC).

Ms Hurd, one of the founders of the ‘I am a photographer, not a terrorist’campaign and Chair of the NUJ London Photographers’ Branch , was stopped by police officers under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 whilst filming the wedding reception of a traveller couple in the City of London, as part of an on-going documentary project.

Despite confirming she was a member of the press and showing a valid Press Card she was subjected to a stop and search under the controversial legislation.

Section 44 does not require an officer to have ‘reasonable suspicion’ in order to carry out a search and has now been found by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) to breach Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights on the grounds that the powers were too broadly drawn and there were inadequate safeguards against abuse.

Following an outcry over the use of the law against professional and amateur photographers the Government has amended the police’s powers pending the outcome of a review of counter-terrorism powers, including the use of terrorism legislation in relation to photography.

The IPCC acknowledged that in relation to the suspension of the use of Section 44 “it is cases such as this that have helped in bringing about such changes”.

NUJ Deputy General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said:

“It is an abuse of power that the police acted in this way and we congratulate Jess for challenging them and helping to bring pressure to bear to get these powers scrapped”.

Ms Hurd’s solicitor Chez Cotton said:

“It is critical that the police are not allowed to use very serious counter-terrorism measures as a general stop and search provision as has happened in my client’s case and has happened in many other cases involving NUJ members and amateur photographers alike. The use, or threatened use, of terrorism powers against journalists has had a chilling effect on their ability to report freely and without fear of arrest.  The current review of key counter terrorism and security measures must be used to ensure any powers given to the police cannot be misused in an arbitrary and discriminatory way, otherwise such powers will not enjoy the support or confidence of the public.”
NUJ Legal Officer Roy Mincoff said:

“We welcome the IPCC’s findings in Jess Hurd’s favour. These events should never have taken place in the first instance. The role of journalists, including photographers, as the public watchdog, must be respected. It is one of the essential elements of a democratic society that journalists are entitled to inform the public, which itself is entitled to be informed. In addition the police should not store information on journalists who are doing their job and have committed no crime.”

NUJ General Secretary, Jeremy Dear, said:

“NUJ member Jess Hurd was detained for more than 45 minutes by police during a wedding in London’s Docklands, her camera was forcibly removed and she was told the police can do anything under the Terrorism Act. The NUJ believes legislation should not be abused and no journalist should be singled out by the police. The police service has no legal powers or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict photographer’s work. The NUJ will continue to take action in support of our members when they are targeted by police, we welcome the judgment from the IPCC especially the acknowledgement that the use of stop and search powers are not seen as fair or effective.”

The complaint made by Ms Hurd:

Police officers, who were aware that a wedding reception was taking place at the hotel in London Docklands, and had seen Ms Hurd filming guests as they were leaving, approached her to see ‘what she was doing’.

Although Ms Hurd could see no legitimate reason for their interest, she wished to co-operate and resolve matters swiftly, and explained to the officers that she had been professionally engaged to cover the wedding and was an accredited photojournalist.

She offered her Press Card so that her credentials could be checked by the police, there being in force nationally agreed Guidelines between the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and media organisations (see resources at the end of the press release).  Each accredited NUJ member has a unique PIN number and photographic ID, and the police have access to a 24 hour ‘hotline’ that they can call to verify the personal details and identity of a legitimate member of the press. The Guidelines set out that the police will recognise the holder of a valid Press Card, issued by the UK Press Card Authority Limited, as ‘a bona fide news gatherer’.

The Guidelines are comprehensive and should be known and followed by all police officers.

A second officer, aware of Ms Hurd’s status as a journalist and that her footage had been obtained through legitimate journalistic activity, said he wished to view the film.  He said she was being stopped under ‘Section 44 of the Prevention of Terrorism Act’.

Ms Hurd protested that she was clearly a journalist and as the footage was professional they could not interfere.  Ms Hurd was then told that she could have been ‘doing hostile reconnaissance’, although this was entirely at odds with the circumstances confirmed by Ms Hurd and supported by the evidence of the reality of the situation.

Ms Hurd’s camera was forcibly taken from her by the officer, despite her protests that there were safeguards in place to ensure a free press. The officer’s response was: “We can do anything under the terrorism act”.

A third officer took the camera and watched footage with a further officer who was still in the police car, some distance from Ms Hurd.  She was fearful that her entire days work could be wiped and was by now feeling intimidated, as she was in a dark car park being questioned in an intimidating way by police officers.

Ms Hurd was informed that she could not use any footage of the police car or police officers and that if she did there would be ‘severe penalties’, although these were not specified.

The officer concluded the matter confirming to Ms Hurd that if she did want to use the footage then she would have to go through the Metropolitan Police press office, as it was ‘his copyright’, and, although the officers were not undercover at that point, they might be at some point in the future.

In relation to Ms Hurd’s complaint, the IPCC accepted that:

“Arguably with the assistance of hindsight the officers could have handled this incident differently, from a public confidence and satisfaction perspective.”

Human Rights Day is celebrated annually across the world on 10 December.

Branch member wins £30,000 compensation for G20 assault

10th December, 2010

Press release from Bindmans about branch member David Hoffman‘s successful legal action against the police:

The well known and highly respected National Union of Journalist member David Hoffman, who is represented by Chez Cotton, head of the Police Misconduct Department at leading civil rights law firm Bindmans LLP, has received £30,000 damages today from the Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis.

Mr Hoffman was working in a professional capacity covering the G20 protests.  Despite being out of the way and not interfering with any police operation, an inspector in full riot gear ran towards Mr Hoffman and hit him in the face with a shield, fracturing Mr Hoffman’s teeth. As well as paying compensation and the cost of the extensive dental work that has been required, the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis has also apologised to Mr Hoffman for the treatment he received and has confirmed the force’s recognition that journalists have a right to report freely.

Mr Hoffman’s solicitor Chez Cotton says:

“Journalists such as my client are critical in disseminating information into the wider public domain. Reporters and photojournalists play a significant role recording political unrest, political events, which includes recording protest and, if it arises, police wrong doing. That my client was assaulted by a police officer when carrying out this essential function, and brutally so, is shocking. Fortunately with photographic and film evidence of the incident and detailed testimony, Mr Hoffman has succeeded in holding the police to account. It is absolutely right that the Metropolitan Police Force has paid significant damages, given an apology and confirmed recognition and respect for a free press.”

The apology from the Metropolitan Police states:

“On 1 April 2009 well-respected social issues photographer David Hoffman was recording the G20 protests in the City of London. The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) recognise that Mr Hoffman was entitled to report on that day but was caused injury by an MPS officer during the event, preventing him from doing so. The MPS confirms its recognition that freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy and that journalists have a right to report freely. The MPS apologise to Mr Hoffman for the treatment he received and have paid compensation.”

NUJ Legal Officer Roy Mincoff said:
“David Hoffman suffered very painful injuries as a result of this entirely unnecessary gratuitous and violent assault on him while properly and professionally going about his work. The role of journalists, including photographers, as the public watchdog, must be respected. It is one of the essential elements of a democratic society that journalists are entitled to inform the public, which itself is entitled to be informed. The NUJ has fought for this to be recognised, and is pleased that the Police has now accepted responsibility and properly compensated Mr Hoffman.”

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary said:

“No journalist should be singled out by the police and the police service has no legal powers or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict photographer’s work. Journalists have a duty to record and report on public protests as well as the behaviour of the police.  David’s case is a shocking example of police brutality and totally unacceptable. We believe that attacks on working journalists are attacks on democracy and on society’s ability to make informed decisions. The NUJ will continue to take action in support of our members when they are targeted by police.”

Background to the case

Mr Hoffman, a well respected social issues journalist and member of the National Union of Journalists, attended in a professional capacity to report on the G20 protests on 1 April 2009 in the City of London. Throughout the event Mr Hoffman was carrying professional equipment and had his Press Card clearly visible around his neck and was obviously a journalist.

Mr Hoffman took photographs at various sites throughout the day.  At around 4 p.m. police in the Bank area stopped Mr Hoffman and others from moving forward and tried to push everyone back.  However, due to the size of the crowd behind Mr Hoffman there was nowhere to move back to.

After about ten minutes the police intensified their action and started to push Mr Hoffman and the others in the crowd using their shields and batons aggressively, even though there was still nowhere to move back to. Mr Hoffman was standing beside a line of police officers and was for no reason pushed hard by an officer, to one side.

Mr Hoffman saw a space and was anxious to avoid any further trouble.  He moved to one side so that he was further away from the police. Whilst doing this, Mr Hoffman was suddenly hit for no reason with considerable weight in the back by a policeman using his shield. This threw him violently into the back of a man in front of him.

Mr Hoffman moved even further away form the police and was  partly shielded by some builders’ boards.  He remained in this position, out of the way, and watched the events around him with his camera raised, ready to report. He was doing absolutely nothing wrong and was photographing without interfering in any police operation.

A few seconds later a heavily built inspector in full riot gear suddenly left the group of police officers he was with, ran directly towards Mr Hoffman, and deliberately hit him hard in the face with a shield. The shield made contact with great force, causing Mr Hoffman considerable pain and causing one of his cameras to fly round where it was knocked, causing damage to the equipment. Mr Hoffman was shocked and in pain from the shield hitting him and was thrown backwards.

It was subsequently confirmed that Mr Hoffman’s teeth had been fractured.  Mr Hoffman instructed Chez Cotton of Bindmans LLP to act on his behalf and the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. Proceedings were issued and the claim was settled shortly after the Particulars of Claim were served. The terms of settlement were agreed by Consent between the parties. The Central London County Court sealed the agreement at the beginning of December and the Commissioner of Police has today paid the damages in full.

PCSO unlawfully deleted photographers images

8th July, 2010

Image © James MacKay

Branch member photojournalist, James Mackay, represented by Chez Cotton, head of the Police Misconduct Department, at leading civil rights law firm Bindmans LLP, has succeeded in a complaint against the British Transport Police after he was unlawfully ordered by one of their officers to delete photographs he had taken on the basis that he “was not allowed to photograph the police.”

The journalist, who predominantly works on issues in and surrounding Burma and currently is working with exiled organisations on a global campaign to raise awareness on political prisoners in Burma, was passing through Waterloo mainline station on his way to catch a flight on 8 May 2009 and witnessed a number of Police Community Support Officers (PSCOs) apparently detaining a male.

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A Victory for Press Freedom

25th June, 2010

Video: Journalists win payout after police admit failing to respect press freedomguardian.co.uk

Investigative photojournalist Marc Vallée and videographer Jason Parkinson have received an apology and damages from the Metropolitan Police after being forcibly prevented from working by officers at a political protest outside the Greek Embassy in 2008. Both members received the apology today:

The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) has accepted liability for breach of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The MPS apologise for this and have paid compensation. The MPS confirms its recognition that freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy and that journalists have a right to report freely. The MPS recognise that on 8 December 2008 they failed to respect press freedom in respect of Mr Vallée and Mr Parkinson.

The police have accepted liability for breaching Article 10 and made a payment of £3,500 compensation to each and are paying their legal costs.

Responding to the settlement Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary said:

Professional journalists and photographers have detailed numerous attempts by police officers to stifle the reporting of protests. Today we have achieved a significant victory – it is right that the police admit liability, apologise and compensate those whose basic human rights were breached in such a blatant and aggressive manner.

The police need to quickly learn the lessons of these shameful events, recognise the importance of media freedom and take the necessary steps to recognise the press card during police training to ensure it doesn’t happen again. The result is a huge boost for media freedom and the rights of photographers.

On the day of the protest armed officer from the Metropolitan police’s diplomatic protection group pulled Vallée’s camera away from his face and covered the lens of Parkinson’s video camera whilst stating “you cannot film me.”

NUJ Legal Officer Roy Mincoff said:

The police need to learn that journalists and photographers have a right to report and photograph as recognised by the European Court of Human Rights. The NUJ has held the police to account before and will do so again unless all officers at all ranks abide by the law

Chez Cotton, Head of the Police Misconduct department at leading civil rights firm Bindmans LLP said:

It is of grave concern that an armed, diplomatic officer of the Metropolitan Police Force felt it was appropriate to call these journalists ‘scum’ and stop them from working and was happy to do so in full knowledge that he was being filmed.

My clients were physically prevented from reporting on protest and political unrest of international importance.  Just before he was frog marched by officers away from events, Mr Parkinson filmed an officer punching a protester in the side of the head, although the protester appears to be already under the control of several officers.  That the police appeared not to want these journalists to film what appeared to be extremely brutal arrests using force is a cause for further alarm.

Further to this public acknowledgment that his officers have breached the fundamental right of journalists to report, and in light of wide ranging criticisms of how the press were stopped from reporting at G20 and other ‘politically sensitive’ events, it is very much hoped that the Commissioner will take immediate steps to ensure his officers act properly and support rather than obstruct the press in the important role they play in keeping the public informed, including of police wrong doing.

The pair were not disrupting police activity and had not had any contact with the police prior to the incident. They had complied with requests to leave the area but were forcibly removed and told to report from a distance.

Marc is the London Photographers’ Branch Secretary and Legal Rep and Jason is the branch Welfare Officer.