'Stop spying on journos'

Home Secretary Jacqui Smith has been called on to put an end to police surveillance of reporters and photographers covering demonstrations.

NUJ general secretary Jeremy Dear has written to Smith after receiving complaints from journalists, particularly photographers, who were facing what they claim amounted to harassment by members of the Metropolitan Police Forward Intellligence Team (FIT).

The FIT provides intelligence to police on individuals who might be involved in public order issues.

Dear said the NUJ had serious concerns about the FIT’s activities and has asked the Home Secretary to confirm if FIT was given instructions to photograph and catalogue journalists, for what purpose the information was being gathered and who had access to police databases.

‘A number of members have alleged that the police’s surveillance action amounts to virtual harassment and is a serious threat to their right to carry out their lawful employment,’said Dear.

‘Despite repeated requests there has been no legitimate reason given why police photographers should be cataloguing journalists.”

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