TV forced to give summit protest footage to Scots police

By Hamish Mackay

Police have used court warrants to force television companies to
hand over footage of G8 summit protesters in Edinburgh on 4 July.

BBC Scotland, Scottish Television and Sky Television have all handed
over tapes of extensive disruption which took place in central
Edinburgh when protesters took to the Scottish capital’s streets in a
series of confrontations.

The decision by the television
companies to hand over the tapes to Lothian and Borders Police has been
condemned by the NUJ in Scotland, which feels it could leave
journalists open to attack by anarchists at future events.

A BBC Scotland spokesman said the Crown Office had initially applied for a warrant to examine all footage shot on the day.

BBC legal advisers felt this was a “fishing expedition” and
successfully challenged the warrant on the grounds that it was too

The police subsequently returned with a more
detailed request in which they specified times and places of incidents
and were allowed to view the material.

The BBC Scotland spokesman
explained that it was policy to co-operate informally with police to
avoid a warrant allowing wide-ranging seizure of all tapes and

Paul Holleran, NUJ Scottish organiser, said: “Our
concern is that this could jeopardise journalists covering these events
in the future.

“Camera crews can come under threat from anarchists if it is perceived that police can get access to their footage.”

said the NUJ in Scotland hoped to arrange a meeting attended by all the
broadcasters to try to establish set criteria for responding to police
demands for footage – as was the case in Northern Ireland.

July, six major news organisations, including the BBC, lost a High
Court challenge against a court order by the Independent Police
Complaints Commission to hand over footage of a pro-hunting
demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament.

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