Learning Center
Plans & pricing Sign in
Sign Out

Download this file - BA _Hons_ Broadcast Journalism


									               The Centre for Broadcasting and

BA (Hons) Broadcast Journalism

         Freedom to Protest
          and Public Order
            Public Protest
• Citizens of democracies enjoy the rights of
  freedom of speech
• This allows for that freedom of expression
  to be manifested in public demonstrations

• …but not public disorder
             Public Protest

• Protests may be static in the form of posters
  or banners

• Or they may be mobile in the form of
  processions and parades
             Public Protest
• While public protest is allowed and
  desirable in a pluralist democracy it clearly
  needs to be orderly

• The rights of others need to be considered
  just as much as the rights of the protestors
             Public Order
• Public order is governed by a number of
  statutes designed to prevent serious
  disruption to individuals and society
• Public Order Act 1936
• Public Order Act 1986
• Protection from Harassment Act 1997
• Race Relations Act 1976
• Criminal Justice and Public Order Acts
      Public Order Act 1986
• The Act was introduced following serious
  breakdown in public order in the 1970’s and
  early 1980’s
• Red Lion Square Disorders 1974
• Brixton Riots 1981
• The Police retained common law powers
  and the earlier 1936 Act survived the
  passage of the new law
      O’Moran v DPP (1975)
• Section 1 POA 1936

• Wearing of uniform signifying association
  with political party
• Berets, dark glasses and dark clothing at a
  funeral did constitute the offence
      Public Order Act 1986
• Following the recommendation of the Law
• S.9 POA 1986 abolished the old common
  law offences of:
• Riot
• Rout
• Unlawful assembly
• Affray
      Public Order Act 1986
• Statutory Offences created
• Riot (s.1 POA 1986)
• Most serious of the public order offences
  carried out in a group context
• 12 or more persons together threaten or use
  unlawful violence in common purpose
      Public Order Act 1986
• Violent Disorder

• 3 or more persons must be using violence or
  threats of violence but not necessarily
       Public Order Act 1986
• Affray (s.3 POA 1986)

• Participating in fighting or other acts of
  violence of such a character as to cause
  alarm to members of the public

• Essentially and offence against public order
    Public Order and Protests
• Brutus v Cozens (1973) Anti apartheid
  demonstrators at Wimbledon
• Insulting behaviour likely to cause a breach
  of the peace contrary to s5 POA 1936

• Behaviour not ‘insulting’ albeit disgraceful
   Public Order and Protests
• Chambers and Edwards v DPP (1995)
• Road protesters interfering with survey
• Obstructing theodolite and continuing to do
  so after being warned by police
• Disorderly conduct a question of fact
• Such behaviour capable of being ‘disorderly
  by rule in Brutus v Cozens
 Chambers and Edwards v DPP

• This ruling could effect journalists where
  they have been asked or warned by police to
  remove themselves from certain places

• Accident scenes, crime scenes etc.
    POA 1986 and Journalists
• In 1995 a BBC cameraman was arrested at a
  coach crash scene
• Police had asked him to leave and he had
• Arrested for ‘own safety’
• Successful appeal against magistrates court
  conviction but told to consider the rights of
        Highways Act 1959
• Section 121 HA 1959 grants police officers
  the power to require anyone on the highway
  to move on where ordered to do so by a
• The officer may arrest any journalist or
  photographer who refuses to do so
• But not on private land
            Police Act 1964
• Where a journalist or photographer is
  requested to leave a scene they may be
  arrested under s.51 Police Act 1964

• Refusing to leave may be construed as an
  activity making it more difficult for a police
  officer to carry out his duty
    Public Meetings Act 1908
• It is an offence to engage in disorderly
  conduct at a public meeting for the purpose
  of disrupting the transaction of the business
  for which the meeting was called together
• It is difficult to see how a journalist might
  be caught by this one but intrusive
  questioning of delegates might cause
  Race Relations (Public Order
           Act 1986)
• It is an offence to display, publish, or distribute
  material that is threatening, abusive, or insulting if
  the publisher intends to stir up racial hatred. If
  racial hatred is actually stirred up, this also falls
  under the definition.
• The offence can be committed without any intent
  to stir up racial hatred and as a result, a journalist
  must be aware of inflammatory speeches and
  election manifestos.
  Protection from Harassment
            Act 1997
• This legislation may supplement the
  provisions of the Public Order Acts
• As well as providing for tortious/civil
  remedies against those who engage in
• A course of ‘harassing’ conduct
• Harassment of another
• Both actual or apprehended
  Protection from Harassment
            Act 1997
• The Act creates criminal liabilities
• S.1(1)
• A person must not pursue a course of
  conduct –
• (a) which amounts to harassment of another
• (b) which he ought to know amounts to
  harassment of another
  Protection from Harassment
            Act 1997
• S.2(1)

• A person who pursues a course of conduct
  in breach of section 1 is guilty of an offence

• By s.7(4) ‘conduct’ includes speech
Journalists and PfHA Act 1997
• Journalists could face prosecution under the
• The nature of their work frequently means
  they attempt or speak to or photograph
  individuals who do not wish for their
• Laying ‘siege’ to houses for instance
Journalists and PfHA Act 1997
• Legitimate public interest must be balanced
  against an individuals right to be free from
• Burris v Azadani [1995] 1 WLR 1372
• A government minister accused of adultery
  might be fair game, relatives of murder
  victims will not (US First Amendment
Journalists and PfHA Act 1997
• Journalists who ignore the NUJ codes of
  conduct or Press Complaints Commission
  rulings could be liable under the Act
• O’Brien and Harrison (paparazzi)
• Imprisoned for 90 and 60 days respectively
• Chasing Arnold Schwarzenegger who had
  just come out of hospital
• Press Complaints Commission code of
  practice (26/11/97)
• Exceptions to be made in the public interest
• (a) Detecting or exposing crime or serious
• (b) Protecting public health and safety
• (c) Preventing the public from being misled
Press Complaints Commission
  code of practice (26/11/97)
• Not dissimilar from statutory defences
  under s.1(3) of the Act

• (a) Preventing crime
• (b) Pursued under enactment or rule of law
• (c) Reasonableness
The European Courts Position
      re Public Order
• The ECtHR has been criticised for its
  apparent generosity to states
       Some ECHR Rulings
• Janowski v Poland (1999)
• Journalist intervened when two municipal
  police tried to move on a stall holder
• Janowski informed them they had no legal
  authority to do so
• And also called them ‘dumb oafs’ in the
     Janowski v Poland (1999)
• Convicted of public order offence
  preventing public servants from being
  ‘hindered’ in carrying out their duties
• Janowski applied to the ECtHR on grounds
  the conviction violated his Article 10 rights
• The court holds that his Art 10 rights permit
  him to criticise not ‘insult' public officials
    Janowski v Poland (1999)
• ECtHR severely criticised for this ruling
• Court has not taken account of the context
  of the words used
• Journalist was explaining why municipal
  police could not legally order the stall
  holder to move
• Therefore legitimate Article 10 right to
  criticise public servants
     Janowski v Poland (1999)
• Insulting comments uttered in debate of
  public concern
• Art 10 allows criticism of state
• Even vitriolic criticism of their performance
  of duty Lingens v Austria (Nº2) (1986)
• Attitude of ECtHR has chilling effect on
     Choherr v Austria (1993)
• Obscured military parade
• Arrested for public order offence
• ‘might have caused disturbance’(n actual
• ECtHR accepted the broad assertion by the
• Did not consider legitimate right of
  demonstrator to expression of views
       Article 10 Derogations
• 10(2) The exercise of these freedoms, since
  it carries with it duties and responsibilities,
  may be subject to such formalities
  conditions, restrictions or penalties that are
  prescribed by law and necessary in a
  democratic society…
• Prevention of disorder

To top