NUJ condemns attempt to intimidate court reporter
3 March 2014
The NUJ has strongly condemned attempts to intimidate journalists covering criminal cases in Northern Ireland courts. On Thursday 27 February, Irish News reporter Allison Morris had to be escorted from Belfast Magistrate's Court having been abused by protestors present for the trial of a man accused of assaulting two police officers.
Allison Morris was called a "Fenian bastard" and a "Feniain c**t" by a gang who also threatened to cut her throat.
During the hearing, a protestor made intimidating gestures towards the journalist and approached her in an intimidatory manner during an interval.
NUJ president Barry McCall said the treatment of Allison Morris was "completely unacceptable" and "a threat to the principle of open democracy."
"The media must be free to report on the courts without fear of violence or intimidation. Any attempt to undermine that right is an attempt to undermine the principles which underpin the judicial system."
Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, expressed strong concern at the behaviour of protesters in courtroom and in the adjoining area. He said:
"The court service must examine this incident. Court reporters must be allowed to do their work without threats. On this occasion, intimidating gestures were made towards the press box during the court case, a journalist was abused and eventually had to be escorted out of the building by security staff. Without the security staff, the situation could have been much worse. It was a terrifying experience and one no court reporter should have to endure."