Police application for BBC's Real IRA footage rejected

The NUJ has hailed the ‘extremely significant’ruling of a judge who refused to order the BBC to hand over footage from a Real IRA parade in Derry.

The decision comes amid repeated attempts by the Police Service of Northern Ireland to force broadcasters to hand over footage of disturbances.

Earlier this week Judge Tom Burgess ruled there was not enough evidence from the PSNI to show footage of the parade could assist police in identifying the men, or prove the video would be of substantial value in its investigation.

The case arose after 10 men dressed in paramilitary uniform paraded in Derry’s City cemetery at a 32 County Sovereignty movement commemoration.

According to the NUJ, the police claimed the footage could be used to identify the masked men.

The BBC challenged the application, claiming it would endanger its staff. It also said the PSNI was fully aware of the nature of the parade and had failed to prevent it, or film it, themselves.

In December the BBC, UTV and ITN were forced to hand over footage of disturbances during the Apprentice Boys parade in Derry in August, a decision the NUJ condemned as a ‘dangerous ruling”.

In August the union warned that journalists could be put at risk after police again ordered news outlets to hand over footage of riots in Belfast.

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet hoped the latest ruling would ‘send a signal to the PSNI that trawling exercises had no place in police investigations”.

NUJ vice president Barry McCall said: ‘We welcome the stand taken by the BBC and other media organisations against the backdrop of persistent attempts by the PSNI to force journalists and their employers to hand over material.”

  • To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7336 5327 or email pged@pressgazette.co.uk

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