Photojournalist wins out-of-court settlement from Metropolitan Police in assault case
Photojournalist Marc VallÃ©e has accepted an apology and out-of-court settlement from the Metropolitan Police today (25/2), further to issuing proceedings against Sir Ian Blair, Commissioner of Police for the Metropolis for "Battery" (assault) and breaches of the Human Rights Act, relating to freedom of expression and assembly.
Mr VallÃ©e, a member of the National Union of Journalists, International Federation of Journalists and the British Press Photographersâ Association, was taking photographs of the âSack Parliamentâ demonstration protest in Parliament Square on 9 October 2006.
Mr VallÃ©e received injuries further to action by Metropolitan Police officers, which resulted in an ambulance attending to give urgent attention and then treatment at St Thomasâ hospital.
Mr VallÃ©e has received a written apology and an out-of-court settlement. His legal costs for pursuing the action will also be met by the police.
Ms Chez Cotton, Mr. VallÃ©eâs solicitor, said:
âThis was an extremely unpleasant incident. Neither the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police or his officers has any legal power, moral responsibility or political responsibility to prevent or restrict what the media record. Mr VallÃ©e is a well-respected photojournalist, lawfully present to photograph a political protest outside parliament, yet he was brutally prevented from doing so by the police. It is right that Mr VallÃ©e has received an apology, an out of court settlement and that his legal costs will be met by the police.â
Mr. Jeremy Dear, General Secretary of the National Union of Journalists, said:
âMarc will be pleased to have finally got an apology from the police, but it is no cause for celebration. It is disgraceful that the police brutally obstructed a member of the press from reporting on a political demonstration. Press freedom is a central tenet of our democracy so Marc VallÃ©eâs treatment by the police is deeply worrying. The Met needs to take a close look at what must be done to ensure its officers respect journalistsâ rights.â
Mr Chris Atkins, director of the BAFTA nominated hit feature film documentary âTaking Libertiesâ, who witnessed the incident, said:
âSeeing photojournalist Marc VallÃ©e assaulted by uniformed officers for simply photographing protesters outside parliament was appalling, and a sad reflection on the political policing that is now part of everyday Britain. Marcâs case is a stark reminder that peaceful protest, and the reporting of it, is very much under threat in this country."
Mr Mark Thomas, comic, activist and a writer said:
"Marc's win shows that police simply cannot attack journalists and get away with it. The Met should be ashamed that the case had to be taken on in the first place, physically assaulting journalists in the pursuit of their job is an outrageous and vile act that smacks of the worst kind of censorship and bully boy tactics. One can only hope that the Met will learn from this and refrain from beating up members of the press in future."
Mr Vallee was represented by Nick Stanage , instructed by Chez Cotton.
> About Marc VallÃ©e: Marc VallÃ©e is a member of the National Union of Journalists, International Federation of Journalists and the British Press Photographers' Association. See: www.marcvallee.co.uk and www.marcvallee.co.uk/blog_250208.html