NUJ general secretary calls for action on blacklisting and surveillance of journalists:
Today is the national day of action on blacklisting and is a hugely important day for trade unionists. All around the UK, events are taking place to collectively protest against endemic blacklisting in the construction industry and elsewhere, that has led to thousands of trade unionists – individuals like many NUJ members and reps who stick up for their colleagues and enforce basic health and safety requirements – lose their livelihoods.
The NUJ is part of the TUC’s campaign to call for a full public inquiry about blacklisting – and certainly not for such an important issue to be tagged on to a kneejerk, politically motivated trade union-bashing inquiry initiated by the Tories in recent days.
Members of the NUJ have discovered that their name was one on the blacklist drawn up for construction companies – a list commonly believed to the tip of the iceberg. Anyone who believes it is possible they are on the list should contact the Information Commissioner to make a subject access request.
The NUJ has launched a campaign to find out exactly what information the authorities are holding about journalists – to do so we need your help.
As well as finding out he was on the construction industry blacklist as a result of his campaigning work, NUJ member, journalist and comedian Mark Thomas discovered the extent of how the police have also monitored his work and movement when he made a subject access request under the Data Protection Act to find out what information the Metropolitan Police was holding about him on the so-called domestic extremism database. Mark explains the surreal and disturbing level of this surveillance in his piece launching our NUJ campaign today.
Journalistic activities are under particular scrutiny and state interference as recent events on the David Miranda case shows. On a day to day basis, members are being stopped at borders and hassled by police – simply for being journalists trying to carry out their work.
As well as Mark, we are aware of some other journalists who are on the domestic extremism database – an initiative ran by the same unit responsible for the use of dead babies’ identities by its undercover officers, and for police forming relationships with the female protestors they were monitoring. Given that the police have admitted monitoring nearly 9,000 individuals it is likely other NUJ members will be on the list.
The NUJ is supporting Mark in a legal challenge to challenge this police policy and to demand the deletion of files held on journalists, and we want as many other members as possible to find out what information the Met is holding.
Shamik Dutta of Bhatt Murphy Solicitors is acting for the NUJ in Mark’s case – find out more about the database and why we are challenging this improper surveillance in this legal Q&A.
To make a request for the information about you held by the police complete this template letter.
The NUJ will convene a meeting to update members on the legal challenge and the next steps of the campaign in March 2014. Please take part in this important campaign by making your application today – when you get a response, make sure you email a copy to us at firstname.lastname@example.org so our legal team can review your case.
NUJ general secretary