The Leveson Inquiry Should Ignore Gerry McCann’s Words On Super-Injunctions For Photographers
WHEN the parents of Madeleine McCann appeard at the Leveson Inquiry, Gerry McCann told it:
You should not be able to publish photographs of private individuals going about their private business without their explicit consent, signed.
What say the snappers?
A ban of this type would be the death of the free press in the UK. Current guidelines require that individuals should not be photographed while they have a ‘reasonable expectation of privacy’. In practical terms this means that anyone in a public place can be photographed without permission, as they cannot expect privacy in a public space. If laws were introduced requiring the written consent of an individual before they were photographed, it would mean press photographers would have to ignore events unfolding before them.
Indeed. When JFK was shot, who would the cameraman ask for permission to use the photos? All spontaneous events are unusable. The picture of a policeman pushing Ian Tomlinson to the ground would require the permission of all parties in the shot before they can be legally published.
Some of the biggest news stories of the year could not have been reported. Pictures of Charlie Gilmour swinging from the Cenotaph would have been taken illegally, likewise pictures of Oliver Letwin disposing of government documents in a park bin. Press photographers would be as hamstrung as reporters are when they are prevented from covering stories of public interest that are subject to super-injunctions.
“Take away their cameras, and you’ve got a pack of men chasing a woman.”
“Perhaps they were waiting for me to give birth on the pavement.”
How I thought I was going to outrun a 20-something paparazzo … my daughter was saying: ‘Calm down, mum, calm down, it doesn’t matter’ – but it mattered enormously to me.”
If there are later complaints about how the pictures were obtained, editors shrug… nothing to do with us, old boy. Try the agency that sent them to us… Over several years, I have tried to track back the route of certain controversial pictures. On most occasions, having finally identified the agency, I have come up against a brick wall. Agencies exist outside the remit of the Press Complaints Commission. Many of them are not more than “fronts” for a couple of photographers.
Some photographs pass through several hands – for example, from pap to agency one and on to agency two, maybe even three – before reaching a newspaper’s picture editor.
Leveson will need to get to grips with this process, which provides editors with a built-in deniability. It’s not us, guv.
Or does the responsibility reside with the consumer? They vote with their feet and wallets…