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Media organisations ordered to hand over Belfast footage

19 July 2011

Belfast Recorder Judge Thomas Burgess has ordered news organisations to hand over footage of the riots in east Belfast to the Northern Ireland police, the PSNI. The NUJ has expressed concern at the decision.

The application was opposed by media organisations, and Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, has urged the organisations to appeal the order granted by Judge Burgess.

Séamus Dooley said:

"Media workers covering public demonstrations must be allowed to act in an independent fashion and must not be perceived as agents of the police or any other organ of the state. If it is understood that photographers or video journalists will hand over footage they could be placed in an untenable situation.
"It is regrettable that Judge Burgess did not accept the compelling arguments regarding the role of the media in covering public events.The health and safety implications of this order are enormous and could have consequences for journalists covering demonstrations.
"There is significant footage from these appalling riots already in the public domain and it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the PSNI is engaged in a fishing expedition in this case. The material in the public domain and already broadcast should be sufficient for the PSNI."

Tags: , belfast, production order, psni, courts, footage, civil unrest, riot, videographers, photographers