I won’t let the police seize my footage

First published in News

A VIDEO journalist is fighting an order from the police forcing him to hand over footage he shot at the English Defence League and Unite Against Fascism protests in Bolton.

Greater Manchester Police has applied for a production order to see all footage shot by Jason Parkinson at the demonstration in March, 2010.

Mr Parkinson, aged 43, who fought an eight-month battle against a similar attempt to get footage of the Dale Farm eviction in Essex in 2011, has refused to comply.

He said he has not been told why the police want it and says that handing over the material takes away the freedom of the press.

The case will be heard at Minshull Street Crown Court in Manchester on Monday.

Mr Parkinson said: “I am not willing to hand unpublished material over.

“Journalists report the news and are not evidence-gatherers for the police or anyone else.

“To do so would endanger the safety of all journalists in similar situations in the future.

“We would not be regarded as independent and would become greater targets from all sides.”

He will be attending the hearing and may have to argue his case in court.

Mr Parkinson added: “I have seen a massive increase in requests for footage since the end of 2010 when the student protests were going on.

“It seems to have become routine if there is any disorder.”

Mr Parkinson, who has been a video journalist for eight years, has received the backing of the National Union of Journalists.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “Jason Parkinson is a frontline journalist and should have the right to work in the public interest without fearing he will be forced to hand over his footage.”

Ch Insp Mike Dawson said: “GMP absolutely respects the rights and freedoms of the press.

“Requests for material are not taken lightly but it is believed the footage requested will be of substantial value to an ongoing prosecution.

“This application for a production order was agreed between GMP and the Independent Police Complaints Commission which is managing the investigation relevant to this case.

“As this is ongoing it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

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