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Kent police apologise for surveillance of journalists

10 March 2009

Kent police have apologised to media workers who were put under surveillance at last year's Climate Camp protest in the county. The NUJ has welcomed the apology.

The force's Assistant Chief Constable Allyn Thomas said:

"We accept that police should not have filmed legitimate journalists or camera crews."

The apology followed an investigation by The Guardian, which has reproduced a police surveillance video. Photographers and TV crews were targeted.

Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary said:

"It is difficult to understand Mr Thomas's claim that 'it was a difficult task in these circumstances to clearly identify them', since the journalists concerned presented his officers with their Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) approved press cards showing them to be legitimate journalists.
"I appreciate the Assistant Chief Constable's admission that there was an issue with a failure of some officers to identify the National Press Card, which is accepted by ACPO. I hope he will discuss with us the training and guidance given to his officers in respect of future operations."

At the time of the Camp, the NUJ protested that journalists were detained so long for searches that it stopped them doing their jobs.

Jeremy Dear added:

"I look forward to a specific apology from the Assistant Chief Constable to the individual journalists who were deliberately obstructed and harassed at the Climate Camp..
"The NUJ calls on the Assistant Chief Constable to give his assurances that all film surveillance of journalists will be destroyed, that his officers will not repeat this intimidatory behaviour and will pay compensation to the individual journalists in recognition of the unreasonable length of time for which they were improperly detained."

Tags: , police, kent, apology, acpo, press cards, surveillance, climate camp, protests, guardian