Journalists face death threats for covering far-right
2 November 2009
journalists covering far right demonstrations have been targeted by violence, intimidation and death threats.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, has called for tough and urgent action in response. His call comes in the wake of specific email threats against Marc Vallée, photojournalist and investigative reporter, and Jason N Parkinson, video journalist.
The emails follow verbal threats and intimidation aimed at photographers covering a march by the English Defence League (EDL) in Leeds at the weekend and other EDL protests this year.
Professional journalists covering the events have filed reports with the NUJ detailing physical violence, including one being punched in the head; verbal threats and attempts to seize cameras and smash equipment. The union is to file complaints to the police.
Jeremy Dear said:
"In a week when yet more photographers have been targeted by right-wing hate website Redwatch - when out on the streets, professional photographers are subjected to violence and intimidation by right-wing thugs, there must be tough and urgent action in response to these latest death threats.
"These are not idle threats made by kids – these are direct, named threats made by individuals who can be traced – in one case an individual already convicted of stabbing someone. They are designed to silence the media and stop photographers showing the true nature of the protests and protestors. The police must act now before a journalist is killed or seriously injured."
Jason N. Parkinson said:
"It is ironic the English Defence League claim they are protesting 'peacefully' against Muslim extremism. Then late Saturday night, after returning from covering the Leeds protest, I receive a threatening email from one of their Welsh and English division organisers entitled 'Fatwa'.
"This is exactly the behaviour and tactics of extremism the EDL claim they are against. Someone should remind the EDL that the fundamental root of all democratic society, including in the UK, is press freedom. Intimidation, violence, Fatwas and death threats are not."
Marc Vallée said:
"I find it intriguing that only four weeks after attending a BNP press conference – at London's City Hall – I'm targeted by Redwatch in this way. We should be free to go about our lawful and necessary work without such intimidation.
"I'm determined that when journalists are targeted in this way the only effective response is a collective one as well as journalistic one."