17th May 2012 12:41pm | By Shea Roll
It’s media for the win in a High Court battle over police to give up film of the violent evictions from the traveller site at Dale Farms in Essex.
The police claimed they needed the footage from organizations such as the BBC and BSkyB to pursue prosecutions.
However High Court said police had failed to make a sufficiently strong case and broadcasters viewed the orders as a grab for evidence.
The BBC, Independent Television News, BSkyB, Channel 5, Hardcash Productions and freelance video journalist Jason Parkinson joined forces to oppose the orders.
The footage was captured while filming during the operation to evict travellers near Basildon last year.
The atmosphere turned quickly and violent measures were taken as bailiffs dismantled barricades.
In February, Judge Gatwicke at Chelmsford Crown Court gave production orders, but now Lord Justice Moses and Mr. Justice Eady have nullified those orders.
Media organisations felt the police were using them as a convenient source to access evidence to be used in court.
Mr. Justice Early said the public’s interest was not tracing people involved in public disorder or violence.
Essex police failed to demonstrate that the degree of interference and the wide scope of the production order were necessary.
Mr. Justice Eady further stated to BBC that disclosure orders should never be granted as a formality, and while police should not be discouraged from seeking to obtain material in the future it should be difficult and taken with reverence.
The orders given by Judge Gatwicke seemed to stem from the inadequacy of the evidence and the grounds advanced by the police.
ITN chief executive John Hardie said that the decision further solidified the separate roles of the police and independent news organizations.
Perhaps police should take their own camera next time.
Photo by Getty