BBC must safeguard material gathered on March 26 demo, insists NUJ
The NUJ is calling on the BBC to ensure that police use proper procedure if they wish to see material which hasn’t been broadcast of the events surrounding the March 26 TUC demonstration against public service cuts.
NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear has written to BBC director general Mark Thompson: “I am writing to seek your assurance that the BBC will ask that the police follow proper procedures and seek to secure a court order if they wish to obtain any journalistic material in the possession of the BBC or its employees.
“In the event that the police do so I am seeking confirmation that the BBC would ask to be put on notice so you are able to make appropriate representations.
“I seek further confirmation that in that event the BBC will make strong representations to the court to protect the confidentiality of Journalistic Material and Special Procedure Material under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act and under the European Convention on Human Rights and various cases of which you will be aware.”
A number of BBC journalists have received emails regarding police attempts to secure un-broadcast journalistic material from the March 26 TUC demonstration. “At this stage it appears to be a police ‘fishing trip’ seeking all material,” said Jeremy Dear.
“Whilst the material remains the property of the BBC, there are special protections for journalistic material which it is important the BBC demand the police follow and seek to defend the confidentiality of that material and its sources.
“For members who are or were in possession of such material it is possible that the BBC could seek to take disciplinary action against any member who does not hand over material when instructed by the employer on the grounds of refusing a reasonable instruction. In the event of that happening the BBC unions would act immediately in your defence.
“The NUJ has a long and proud record in fighting to protect journalists faced with actions over sources or journalistic material. It is important we do not allow the police to use journalists as information gatherers for their purposes. Such a move places all journalists at greater risk when covering public order issues and stops sources coming forward. The NUJ stance has been confirmed in various cases before the UK and European courts. “