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London rally focuses on civil liberties and press freedom

14 April 2010

Photographers and others concerned to defend the rights of those covering demonstrations and the civil liberties of protestors and dissenters attended a major rally in London on Tuesday at Friends Meeting House in London.

The rally, Hostile Reconnaissance – Terror Laws, Civil Liberties and Press Freedom, was organised by the NUJ London Photographers' and Central London branches, with the I'm a Photographer, Not a Terrorist! campaign group took place in Friends Meeting House.

The rally opened with a film by Jason N Parkinson with highlights from the campaign.

Press Freedom: Hostile Reconnaissance from Jason N. Parkinson/reportdigital on Vimeo.

Press Freedom: Hostile Reconnaissance from Jason N. Parkinson/reportdigital on Vimeo.

Photographer Jess Hurd, who chaired the rally, said:

"With the general election in full swing it is time to put civil liberties and press freedom centre stage in the election debates. Our right to work, our right to protest and dissent are increasingly under threat by the use and abuse of a raft of anti-terror legislation.

"Both professional and amateur photographers are being stopped routinely by police on grounds of conducting 'hostile reconnaissance'. The use of these laws has been challenged and deemed unlawful by the European Court of Human Rights. The rally heard from filmmaker and NUJ member Pennie Quinton, whose landmark European court victory against arbitrary police 'counter-terrorism' stop and search action is being fought by the British government."

Michael Mansfield QC said, in support of the rally:

"The Government's legislation has less to do with terrorism than with control and the suppression of opposition and truth. It has been recognized for some time by the authorities that agents of the state have too often been caught on camera committing unlawful acts. The power to confiscate the camera is therefore an essential tool for an oppressive regime."

Other speakers at the rally included:

  • Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary
  • Paul Lewis, Guardian journalist and British Press Awards Reporter of the Year
  • Professor Keith Ewing, author of Bonfire of the Liberties
  • Henry Porter, Observer columnist
  • Chez Cotton, Co-ordinator of the Police Action Lawyers Group
  • Marc Vallée, photojournalist and an organiser of I'm A Photographer, Not a Terrorist!
  • Pennie Quinton, filmmaker

Tags: , civil liberties, rally, anti-terrorism laws, photographers, press freedom, police, marc vallée, jess hurd, jason parkinson, i'm a photographer not a terrorist, london central branch, london photographers' branch