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Met police representatives and crime reporters before Leveson inquiry this week

March 12th, 2012 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Legal

Copyright: Sean Dempsey/PA

The Leveson inquiry moves into week three of module two today, starting with evidence from Assistant Commissioner Cressida Dick of the Metropolitan Police and Sir Dennis O’Connor, head of Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary.

On Tuesday Dick Fedorcio, director of communications at the Met Police, will give appear before the inquiry.

It is expected that Fedorcio will be asked about his relationship with journalists at News International and also about the advice he gave senior officers on socialising with journalists.

On Wednesday morning Jeff Edwards, representing the Crime Reporters’ Association, will give evidence, along with journalists from the Guardian, the Independent and the Times. A written statement from a Daily Telegraph journalist will be read.

On the last day of this week’s hearings evidence will be heard from the Sun’s Mike Sullivan, who was named in the press as one of four current and former journalists at the Sun arrested and bailed by officers from Operation Elveden on Saturday, 28 January.

See the full witness list here.

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BBC: Ken Livingstone calls for ‘arms-length relationship’ between media and police

July 12th, 2011 | 1 Comment | Posted by in Editors' pick, Legal, Politics

There has been “far too close a relationship” between the media and police involved in investigating the phone hacking scandal, former mayor of London Ken Livingstone said today.

Speaking on Radio 4′s Today programme Livingstone, who was mayor of London at the time of the previous Metropolitan Police investigation into phone hacking, called for an “arms length relationship” between the press and politicians.

He also insisted that meetings between senior figures on both sides should never be held in private.

How on earth can the prime minister of Britain or mayor of London have a private meal with someone at the centre of a criminal investigation? … It’s just not credible.

Reflecting on the circumstances of the previous inquiry Livingstone said the argument that police had other more serious issues to focus resources on was a “completely spurious defence”.

The police had more police than at any time in their history. The idea they had much more pressing things to do is nonsense. This is a scandal that goes right to the heart of the establishment.

Five senior past and present Metropolitan police officers are to appear before a parliamentary select committee beginning today to be questioned about the force’s investigation into phone hacking.

Assistant commissioner John Yates will appear first before the home affairs select committee. He reviewed the initial investigation into phone hacking in 2009 and ruled there was not sufficient new evidence to reopen a police inquiry.

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MEN journalists respond to news of arrested photographer

Journalists at the Manchester Evening News have responded to the news that photographer Sean Wilton was arrested after taking pictures of an incident near to the city’s magistrates’ court on Monday.

According to a report by MEN Wilton was later released, after being what the police termed “de-arrested”.

“I tried to explain I wasn’t obstructing and was just doing my job, but to no avail,” Wilton says in the report. “When I tried to speak to him about the situation, he arrested me for breach of the peace. As professional photographers, we do try to conduct ourselves as professionally as possible.”

In a statement (attributed to mother of the chapel Bethan Dorsett) his colleagues in the NUJ MEN chapel said its photographers always abide by industry codes of conduct.

To be treated in such a way by police is completely unacceptable and very worrying. Either police officers do not understand our rights and responsibilities or they sometimes choose to ignore them – either is disturbing and suggests some education would be useful. We are sure the NUJ and MENMedia would be more than happy to discuss and clarify these matters with the police.

The police issued the following statement:

A photographer was arrested to prevent a breach of the peace and on suspicion of obstructing a police officer. Officers brought the situation under control and the photographer was de-arrested and subsequently released.

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BBC: West Midlands Police Tweet from court

The BBC reported today that West Midlands Police sent members of staff to Birmingham Magistrates’ Court to Tweet cases during the course of the morning.

Ch Supt Stephen Anderson said there had been a decline in court reporting in recent years.

He said the initiative was designed to make the public more aware of the cases police deal with.

The force sent its own staff into court for a morning on Tuesday to cover the cases and post them online minutes after they had concluded.

See the full BBC report here…

Are newspapers still sending people to cover court on a regular basis or are only the high profile cases covered?

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Photographers discuss how to change society’s suspicions

Press photographers came together today to explore society’s suspicions of cameras and debate how to change these attitudes in support of a free press for the future, at the House of Commons for the ‘Who’s afraid of photographers’ seminar’.

Opening the seminar, MP Don Foster said photographers need to take “collective action” in ensuring police officers are correctly trained.

There are two key areas that we have to look at, existing legislation and the way legislation is interpreted and used by various forces of law and order. One great piece of news is that the coalition government, through Nick Clegg, has suspended Section 44 of the Terrorism Act. But please don’t say we’ve won because I used the word suspended. What we need to make absolutely certain is that it is actually repealed and removed, not just suspended. I think that’s really important.

You need to talk about the ways in which you can engage with those law enforcement agencies, in particular the police, to help work through with them what is legitimate, and what is not legitimate. That means you have to engage with police in their training procedures with new recruits. So far there has not been a great deal of success, but today I think this is something you should take collective action towards to ensure there is proper training that goes on.

Professor Chris Frost, head of journalism at Liverpool John Moores University, who outlined the ethical guidelines impacting on journalists added that he felt there was increasing concern on the part of the public over their privacy in public places.

People seem to be much more concerned about where their image is going to be placed, they are much more aware, possibly because there are more cameras around now.

He added that this is also fuelled by increased fears of terrorism, peadophilia, identity theft and state interference.

David Hoffman, a social issues photographer, talked the seminar audience through the relationship between photographers and police at demonstrations over the past decades, from the poll tax riots to the G20 clashes, during which he claimed to have lost four teeth. But in recent months there has been “a patchy and fragile improvement”, he said.

I am now finding the police more cooperative. I hope my experience is being reflected elsewhere. I am confident…we have an opportunity to build on the progress of the last 18 months.

We’re at a crossroads, this government has made promises and it’s that baton, not the one hanging from the PC’s belt, that we need to take up now.

So why has there been such a difficult relationship between police and journalists/photographers? John Toner, NUJ Freelance Organiser proposed the following theories, summarised below:

Some police think the press are out there just to take photographs of them behaving badly

Some are afraid of having their photo in the newspaper as could become target

Some believe they’re moral guardians

Some believe there is a law in this country which protects privacy. Even if that were the case, that’s a civil matter.

Looking to the future, and echoing the earlier comments of Don Foster, the seminar participants called for greater training of police, such as through web videos/units and training alongside photographers, as well as penalties for the misuse of legislation rather than the re-distribution of guidelines.

In support of practical training for police, Jules Mattsson, who claimed to have had his camera confiscated by police and been restricted from photographing two cadet parades, said time should not be an excuse.

If there’s not enough training time to train the police who uphold the law, then I think that’s a much wider problem than this.

I think publicity and education is important, also for new photographers, student photographers. We need to also expand our reach to educate people in our rights.

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ProPublica photographer followed by BP employee, detained by police

Police in England have come in for a fair amount of criticism recently for their treatment of photographers (see here and here), but their US counterparts have received some attention too after detaining freelance photographer Lance Rosenfield, who was working for ProPublica at the time.

Rosenfield was driving away after taking photos of a BP refinery in Texas City, Texas when he was followed by a BP employee, blocked off by two police cars and detained. Rosenfield had remained in a public space outside the refinery while working. The police reviewed his pictures and recorded his date of birth, Social Security number and other personal information. According to Rosenfield these details were then shared with BP.

Paul Steiger, editor-in-chief of ProPublica, said:

“We certainly appreciate the need to secure the nation’s refineries. But we’re deeply troubled by BP’s conduct here, especially when they knew we were working on deadline on critical stories about this very facility. And we see no reason why, if law enforcement needed to review the unpublished photographs, that should have included sharing them with a representative of a private company.”

Full story at this link…

via Fishbowl NY blog

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#Tip of the day from Journalism.co.uk – police guidelines for treatment of photographers

June 11th, 2010 | No Comments | Posted by in Top tips for journalists

Photography rights: the Metropolitan Police recently issued guidelines that lay out how police should treat camera owners and users. For more explanation read this FreelanceUK article.
Tipster: Judith Townend.

To submit a tip to Journalism.co.uk, use this link – we will pay a fiver for the best ones published.

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Video: Commander Bob Broadhurst at the NUJ’s photography conference

Some interesting comments in the video below (courtesy of Paula Geraghty) of Metropolitan Police commander Bob Broadhurst on the police’s relationship with photographers, public order policing and the recent G20 coverage.

“If you look at those images around G20 and the climate camp at the other end of the road, some of our officers had huge problems doing anything with the crowd because of the phalanx of cameras in front of them before they could get to anybody,” says Broadhurst, who was speaking at the National Union of Journalists’ (NUJ) photography conference.

“Legitimate? Maybe yes, but we do seem now to be in a new dynamic; certainly because of the way some of the G20 events were portrayed in the media, by the time anybody turned up most of the ground was already taken up by competing camera crews and journalists looking for a story, All that does is add to the mix that our officers have to deal with. We need to work our way through that. Let’s have a more sensible dialogue.”

Commander Bob Broadhurst at NUJ Photography Conference from Paula Geraghty on Vimeo.

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MediaGuardian: ‘Can the police and the media trust each other?’

“Why did it take six days and citizen journalism to shed light on Ian Tomlinson’s death?” Nick Davies asks in today’s MediaGuardian. He examines the role of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) and asks ‘who the media can trust’.

Full story at this link…

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Police and photographers clash at Greek Embassy protests

December 10th, 2008 | 2 Comments | Posted by in Photography, Press freedom and ethics

Photographers reporting on a blockade of the Greek Embassy by Greek and British anarchists in London on Monday 8 December found themselves in conflict with police officers at the scene.

These photographs by Philip Caller (his other photos of the protest can be viewed here) document a police officer grabbing and lifting up photographic equipment hanging around the neck of photojournalist Marc Valleé.

Vallée, who has featured on Journalism.co.uk before in regards to his investigation of rights under the Terrorism Act 2000, also publishes the photos on his blog.

(Photos Philip Caller/ www.flickr.com/photos/filkaler/) (c) Philip Caller, 2008.)

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