Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.
Jeremy Dear, General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ), has written to Home Secretary Jacqui Smith recently over concerns about photographs and reporters being filmed at public protests.
The letters were regarding concerns over the filming of photographers and reporters by the Forward Intelligence Team during demonstrations such as the anti-Bush protests in London on 15th June and were sent due to a lack of response from the Metropolitan Police.
Investigations by the NUJ discovered that details and filmed footage of reporters were being held on a database along with photographic reference numbers. General Secretary Jeremy Dear then wrote a letter to the Metropolitan Police asking why the information was being held and what it was being used for, and when he received no response, contacted Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.
He was told by Smith that he should discuss the matter with the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Ian Blair who he had already written to twice and received no reply.
Ironic to recent situations of photographers clashing with the police, her response to the matter also stated that "the Government greatly values the importance of the freedom of the press, and such there is no legal restriction of photography in public places.”
She also said that it is down to the police to decide “how the rights to freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the need for public protection should be balanced,” and said that FIT officers had been given “no specific guidelines” to follow.
“Despite repeated requests there has been no legitimate reason given why police photographers should be photographically cataloguing journalists going about their lawful business,” said Dear.
He is now waiting for the outcome of a meeting with Tony McNulty, the Minister of State for Policing, planned for next week before deciding whether to go back to the Commissioner about the issues.
The NUJ are passionate campaigners for media freedom, the rights of journalists, workers' rights and for social justice at home and internationally. More information can be found at their website here.