Essex Police forced to pay costs over failed production order on Dale Farm footage
The NUJ and other media organisations have had their application for costs for the judicial review to overturn a production order by Essex Police and the original Crown court costs upheld by the High Court.
Essex Police had attempted to force NUJ member Jason Parkinson, a freelance video and print journalist, the BBC, ITN, BskyB and Hardcash Productions to hand over footage taken during the disturbances at Dale Farm, Essex, when Travellers were being evicted from the site.
The decision at Chelmsford crown court to award the production order was overturned after the High Court heard that the orders were "an excessive, unlawful and disproportionate intrusion into the media's freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights". Gavin Millar QC, acting for the NUJ and broadcasters, said the police were increasingly trying to seize footage of public disorder as a "convenient way to access evidence that may be used in court".
Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said: "I hope this will be a lesson to police forces across the land to not go on fishing expeditions and try to use the media to their job for them. The overturning of the production order was a huge victory for the cause of press freedom and the protection of sources and journalistic material and it is right that the police should be made to pay for their heavy-handed decision.
"Journalists are put in danger if footage gathered whilst reporting events is seized and used by the police. The NUJ's code of conduct compels the union – and our members - to defend a vital principle, the protection of journalistic sources and material. This decision is a great victory."
Roy Mincoff, NUJ legal officer, said: "The union is very pleased that the High Court has now ordered Essex Police to pay the costs of the four-day hearing at Chelmsford Crown court and of the High Court Judicial Review, which was won by the NUJ and national broadcasters, resulting in the police being unable to force the handing over of their footage.
Jason Parkinson outside the High Court Photo: David Hoffman
Protecting journalist sources and materials - background information here, here