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Commons meeting discusses photographers, ethics, privacy and police

16 November 2010

Don Foster MP opened the Who's Afraid of Photographers? seminar in the House of Commons with words of warning for the photographers present. Section 44 of the Terrorism Act has suspended, he said, but "we need to make absolutely certain that it is actually repealed."

Don Foster went on to say that photographers must engage with the police in their training procedures with new recruits. The event, organised by the NUJ's Freelance Office, attracted more than 70 photographers and MPs.

In the course of the afternoon, they heard from: Professor Chris Frost on ethics; solicitor Anna Mazzola on privacy; photographer David Hoffman on his 34 years of confrontations with the police; and solicitor Chez Cotton on the various laws deployed against photographers.

David Hoffman said:

"We are 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."

In the final session, John Toner, NUJ Freelance Organiser, explained that there has already been involvement in police public order training at Gravesend. He said that work would continue and expand.

John Toner said that the police treatment of photographers and the wider issue of society's fear of cameras are interlinked. He outlined a strategy for an industry-wide campaign to tackle this suspicion.

Attendees at the event watched Press Freedom: Hostile Reconnaissance, the film funded by the National Union of Journalists on the continuing problem of police surveillance and harassment of journalists covering political unrest in the UK. 

Videos from the event

Don Foster, Liberal Democrat MP, introduces the parliamentary seminar Who's Afraid of Photographers?

Professor Chris Frost, head of journalism at Liverpool John Moores University.

Anna Mazzola, solicitor, Hickman and Rose

Jess Hurd, London Photographers' Branch (LPB) chair.

Chez Cotton, head of Police Misconduct Department, Bindmans LLP

David Hoffman, photographer

Tags: , ethics, law, police, photographers, house of commons, terrorism act, freelance