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Journalists launch legal challenge over police surveillance in U.K.

Freelance video journalist Jason Parkinson and freelance photographer Jess Hurd react during an interview at their home in east London, 21 November 2014
Freelance video journalist Jason Parkinson and freelance photographer Jess Hurd react during an interview at their home in east London, 21 November 2014

AP Photo/Raphael Satter

This statement was originally published on ifj.org on 21 November 2014.

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) today joined the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) – its affiliate in Great Britain – in supporting six members who have taken legal action against the Metropolitan Police and the Home Secretary. The legal challenge concerns the monitoring and recording of their lawful journalistic and union activities by police since 2008.

According to the NUJ, Jules Mattsson, Mark Thomas, Jason Parkinson, Jess Hurd, David Hoffman and Adrian Arbib have been under police surveillance, as part of the police monitoring of the so called “domestic extremism.”

NUJ says that the journalists argue that the surveillance and retention of data is unnecessary, disproportionate and not in accordance with the law. The surveillance was revealed as part of an ongoing campaign, which began in 2008, during which NUJ members have been encouraged to obtain data held about them by the authorities including the Metropolitan Police 'National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit' (NDEDIU).

All of them have worked on media reports that have exposed corporate and state misconduct and they have each also previously pursued litigation or complaints arising from police misconduct, NUJ added.

NUJ General Secretary, Michelle Stanistreet, said that “there is no justification for treating journalists as criminals or enemies of the state, and it raises serious questions for our democracy when the NUJ is forced to launch a legal challenge to compel the police to reveal the secret evidence they have collected about media workers”.

IFJ has also condemned the police action, describing it as a breach of privacy and undue interference in journalists' lawful activities.

“We consider this surveillance as an attack on our colleagues' right to privacy and condemn their treatment as domestic extremists by the police,” added IFJ President, Jim Boumelha. “We urge the British authorities to stop this unacceptable state interference in journalists' and trade unionists' legitimate affairs.”

Read NUJ's statement with all the information here.

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