Journalists must be ‘neutral observers’ - police can’t have pix

MR JUSTICE Eady ruled in the High Court on 17 May that the BBC, Sky News, ITN, producers Hardcash and freelance Jason Parkinson do not have to hand over to the police pictures of the eviction of travellers from Dale Farm in Essex in October.

Mr Justice Eady said in the ruling:

The interference caused by such orders cannot and should not be dismissed mainly because a small proportion of that which is filmed maybe published.

The judge [in Chelmsford Crown Court] should have feared for the loss of trust in those hitherto believed to be neutral observers if such observers may be too readily compelled to hand over their material. It is the neutrality of the press which affords them protection and augments their ability freely to obtain and disseminate visual recording of events.

NUJ General Secretary Michelle Stanistreet said of Eady's ruling:

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 outside the court - © David Hoffman
Jason Parkinson outside the High Court on 25 April

Jason Parkinson commented that the ruling "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 the role of unwilling agents of the state."

Last modified: 17 May 2012 - © 2012 contributors
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