Hours before thousands of Tommy Robinson supporters marched on Whitehall, a leading media union urged journalists covering the event to wear “hard hats, kneepads and body armour” to keep themselves safe.
In perhaps a growing sign of the disconnect and anger directed at mainstream establishment media and politicians, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) issued mainstream media journalists with a 19-point list on how to keep themselves safe at the demonstration. The curious advice came amid allegations that members of the media were threatened and attacked at the Day for Freedom rally on Sunday 6th May in central London before Robinson’s imprisonment.
The union wrote to members: “This is in response to attacks on journalists during the far-right “Day for Freedom” rally in Whitehall on Sunday 6 May when one journalist was punched in the head, another was assaulted, and others were threatened by protesters. There were also attempts to stop journalists from filming and taking photographs.”
The NUJ provided no specific evidence to support their claims of intimidation and physical violence, but went on to advise journalists to “consider taking protective gear, hard hat and a small first-aid kit” as well as “wear strong boots or shoes and strong, tight-fitting clothing which allows you to move about freely; shin guards, kneepads, body armour, helmet – all or some may be worth thinking about.”
The comprehensive list also advises journalists to avoid public transport, carry the minimum amount of equipment so they can “move quickly” if needed, and to also carry the contact details of an NUJ-approved “emergency solicitors” so that any incidents could be immediately reported.
The London photographers’ branch added: “The union unreservedly condemns the far-right threats and attacks on media workers who are simply doing their jobs.”
Hours later between 10 and 15,000 Tommy Robinson supporters marched from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street to protest against his recent imprisonment. Speeches were heard from Dutch oppostion party leader Geert Wilders as well as UKIP leader Gerard Batten and For Britain Movement leader Anne Marie Waters. At the time of publication there were no reports of any arrests due to violence towards the media although there were a number of skirmishes filmed with police.
In the NUJ’s code of conduct point two advises members: “Strives to ensure information disseminated is honestly conveyed, accurate and fair” yet it labels the thousands of Tommy Robinson supporters as “far right” throughout its news bulletin published on Friday.
Standing up for those without a voice in Britain