Outcry Over Arrests of Journalists Covering Protests

MPs from across the political spectrum have joined with the news media sector to condemn the arrests of three journalists covering climate protests on the M25, leading to Hertfordshire constabulary promising an investigation into the arrests of journalists.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said it is “vital” that journalists are able to do their job “without restriction” after LBC reporter Charlotte Lynch told Nick Ferrari’s LBC Breakfast show how she was arrested on Tuesday by Hertfordshire Police while covering a protest by Just Stop Oil on the M25.  

That followed the arrests of documentary film maker Rich Felgate and photographer Tom Bowles on Monday while covering the same protests.

The chief constable of Hertfordshire Constabulary has promised an investigation into the arrests of journalists covering climate protests, amid accusations the force was threatening press freedom and an intervention by Downing Street. A Hertfordshire constabulary spokesperson said “additional measures” would allow “legitimate media” to cover the protests.

The arrests prompted an outcry from the industry. News Media Association chief executive Owen Meredith said: “This is extremely concerning. A free press able to document and report on protests is fundamental to democratic society.”

Dawn Alford, Society of Editors executive director said: “The Society is deeply concerned by reports this week of a number of journalists being arrested while reporting on protests by the campaign group Just Stop Oil.

“The protests are a source of legitimate public interest and journalists, film-makers and photographers have a right to attend protests and report on behalf of the public. We strongly condemn the arrest of journalists in the course of their work and will be writing to Hertfordshire Police to seek an urgent explanation and seek assurances that its officers respect the rights of journalists and understand that such actions threaten press freedom.”