Police pay damages and apologise to photojournalists - Press Gazette

Police pay damages and apologise to photojournalists

The Metropolitan Police has apologised and paid damages to two photojournalists after its officers prevented them from covering a protest outside the Greek Embassy.

Marc Vallée and Jason Parkinson were prevented from capturing images of the protest in December 2008 by officers from the Met’s diplomatic protection group.

The London protests were a reaction to an incident in Greece where a young boy had been killed by the Greek police force.

Vallée had his camera pulled away from his face and the lens of Parkinson’s video camera was covered by officers.

The two men were then told by officers they were not permitted to film them.

The Metropolitan Police last week admitted the pair were unlawfully prevented from reporting by its officers and accepted liability for breaching both journalists’ rights to freedom of expression – as detailed in Article 10 of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Each man was paid legal costs by the Met and damages of £3,500

The Met issued a statement, saying: “The Metropolitan Police Service has apologised and accepted liability for a breach of freedom of expression (Article 10 of the European Court of Human Rights) when an officer attempted to prevent two journalists from taking photographs outside the Greek Embassy on 8 December 2008.

“The MPS recognises the vital importance of journalists being able to report freely on all occasions, including at public order events.”

Responding to the settlement Jeremy Dear, NUJ general secretary, said: “Professional journalists and photographers have detailed numerous attempts by police officers to stifle the reporting of protests.

“Today we have achieved a significant victory – it is right that the police admit liability, apologise and compensate those whose basic human rights were breached in such a blatant and aggressive manner.

“The police need to quickly learn the lessons of these shameful events, recognise the importance of media freedom and take the necessary steps to recognise the press card during police training to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

“The result is a huge boost for media freedom and the rights of photographers.”



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