Vallée victory

PHOTOJOURNALIST and London Freelance Branch member Marc Vallée has accepted an apology and out-of-court settlement from the Metropolitan Police in late February, after suing Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair for assault and breaches of the Human Rights Act, relating to freedom of expression and assembly.

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Marc Vallée being loaded into an ambulance, with the assistance of police medics, in 2006

Marc was covering a "Sack Parliament" demonstration in Parliament Square on 9 October 2006 and received injuries following action by Metropolitan Police officers. Marc needed urgent attention from an ambulance crew on the scene, and was taken to St Thomas' hospital. He has now secured a written apology and an out-of-court settlement. His legal costs will also be met by the police. (See www.londonfreelance.org /fl/0611marc.html for a report.)

Chez Cotton, of Marc's legal team, commented that "This was an extremely unpleasant incident. Neither the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police nor his officers has any legal power... to prevent or restrict what the media record. Mr Vallée is a well-respected photojournalist, lawfully present to photograph a political protest outside parliament, yet he was brutally prevented from doing so by the police."

Comedian and activist Mark Thomas said that "Marc's win shows that police simply cannot attack journalists and get away with it." General Secretary Jeremy Dear described what happened to Marc as "disgraceful" and "deeply worrying."

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