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Assaults on Journalists

Volume 542: debated on Monday 19 March 2012

9. What recent assessment she has made of the level of physical assaults against journalists covering news stories. (100225)

Information on physical assaults against journalists covering news stories is not available from the police recorded crime statistics held by the Home Office. Journalists have the right to do their job in a safe environment and, like all members of the public, are protected by the law. If they are assaulted, the crime will be investigated and dealt with by the police.

National Union of Journalists members are placed at risk when their material or sources are used by police forces through production orders. Does the Minister accept that journalists are independent news gatherers, not evidence gatherers for law enforcement, and that forcing them to hand over their journalistic material or sources places them at risk of attack? Will he agree to meet me and other members of the NUJ parliamentary group to discuss those matters?

As a former journalist and, indeed, a former member of the NUJ, I have every sympathy with journalists whose lives are put in danger. [Interruption.] The shadow Immigration Minister should not dwell on the fact that his Government organised for me to be arrested, because it was not their finest hour. I suggest that he withdraw that remark.

I am extremely grateful to the Minister. He is many things, but not, to my knowledge, a journalist. I am sure that he has concluded his answer.