Thu | Jan 17, 2019

UK police spied on reporters for years, documents show

Published:Thursday | November 27, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Freelance video journalist Jason Parkinson, 44, and freelance photographer Jess Hurd, 41, gesture at police surveillance files and other documents laid out on their living-room table at their home in east London.


Freelance video journalist Jason Parkinson returned home from vacation this year to find a brown-paper envelope in his mailbox. He opened it to find nine years of his life laid out in shocking detail.

Twelve pages of police intelligence logs noted which protests he covered, who he spoke to and what he wore, all the way down to the colour of his boots. It was, he said, proof of something he'd long suspected: The police were watching him.

Public Records

"Finally," he thought as he leafed through documents over a strong black coffee, "we've got them."

Parkinson's documents, obtained through a public-records request, are the basis of a lawsuit being filed by the National Union of Journalists against London's Metropolitan Police and Britain's Home Office. The lawsuit, along with recent revelations about the seizure of reporters' phone records, is pulling back the curtain on how British police have spent years tracking the movements of the country's news media.

"This is another extremely worrying example of the police monitoring journalists who are undertaking their proper duties," said Paul Lashmar, who heads the journalism department at Britain's Brunel University.

The Metropolitan Police and the Home Office both declined to comment.

Parkinson, three photographers, an investigative journalist and a newspaper reporter are filing the lawsuit after obtaining their surveillance records.