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Photographers call 'Wellers' law' wrong and unworkable

5 January 2015

NUJ Photographers' council response to the Campaign for Children's Privacy

The Campaign for Children’s Privacy is calling for legislation to prevent “the media from publishing photographs of children without consent from parents or a legal guardian”. The NUJ Photographers' council said:

"This proposal is simplistic, dangerous, wrong in principle, unworkable and not the answer to the problems they raise.

"Banning photographs of children – all children – without prior parental consent would have a chilling effect on a free press. The campaign does propose exceptions for crowd shots and photographs published in the public interest.

"But who is going to have the time, when under the pressure of daily deadlines, to decide whether the publication of an innocent photograph of one or more children aged under 18 can be justified, "in the public interest”? There is a general public interest in both freedom of expression and in being able to photograph society generally and in public places.

"We already have the Editors' Code, the NUJ's own Code of Conduct and laws on harassment. The Editors' Code clause 6 (v) says, 'Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life', so the Mail should not have published the pictures in the Wellers' case cited by the campaign, in accordance with the existing Editors' Code. We don't need to criminalise the publishing of pictures of children to deal with a case like the Wellers’.

"Moreover no one seems to have taken into account the many thousands - millions - of photographs of under-18s published daily on Facebook and other social media – most of which are taken by the children themselves.

"This has clearly not been thought through and changes to the law would be unnecessary, draconian and not in the interest of a free press."

The campaign follows a case concerning the taking of photographs of the children of musician Paul Weller. He and his wife have taken their privacy case to the House of Lords. Hannah Weller: I’m fighting to protect everyone’s children

Tags: , photographers, photographers' council, children, privacy, press freedom, paul weller, house of lords, legislation