PSNI launches media crackdown
News organisations must submit to the PSNI any footage or photographs of rioting or other public disorder in the north of Ireland, a judge has ruled.
Judge Piers Grant ruled that unbroadcast and unedited material should be handed over on requestbecause there is a strong chance it could help secure convictions of Belfast “troublemakers”.
Heavy rioting over anti-Catholic marches and the ensuing arrest operations are near-annual events in the Ardoyne area of north Belfast and elsewhere.
Lawyers for mainstream media organisations had opposed the PSNI action due to fears it could portray them as agents of the Crown forces in the eyes of republican hardliners. In particular, they warned of a risk to camera crews and reporters during riot situations.
They argued that journalists could be seen to be working as PSNI evidence gatherers, and the action would hamper their ability to do their job.
The judgement came as the PSNI has sought to censor photographs of the force engaging in harassment or violence against the nationalist community.
Meanwhile, an internet website known as ‘Crown Forces Watch’, which documented instances of police harassment, has been shut down following an intervention by the British authorities.
Terry Spence, chairman of the Police Federation, said he now wanted those responsible for the website to be jailed.
He claimed the site was “set up to provide information on police officers for dissident terrorists”, a claim which was strongly denied by the site’s administrators.
However, it was closed this week by its hosts after it was contacted by what were described as “concerned parties”.