Now it’s time to stand together

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Yesterday one of the most respected men in our profession, the Sun’s deputy editor Geoff Webster, stood behind a plexiglass screen as his QC told Westminster Magistrates Court how he had been arrested for simply doing his job.

Up and down the country journalists are also being detained by the police and will, in time, potentially also be hauled before the courts in similar circumstances.

For those who resent the right of the great British public to read what they want it has been a field day to end all field days.

Meantime the industry’s trade unions, along with many organisations who claim to stand for free speech and the Right to Know, have been strangely silent.

Even worse, however, is that we as journalists have been sitting back watching colleagues we know and respect having their lives turned upside down for simply doing their job.

No-one is suggesting for a moment here that photographers, reporters, subs, and the like take part in some kind of national uprising.

But what, what is so wrong about us all standing together for once?

Yesterday a dozen people walked into court with Geoff yesterday – among them colleagues from the Sun and non journalistic friends. It was at all times a quiet and dignified message of support.

The idea arose after one of the hacks watched TV footage of John Kay, the Sun’s Chief Reporter, walking into court alone last month.

Next time one of our number appears in court as a result of doing their job let’s make it two dozen there in support, and after that 50, and after that 100, and so on.

If this job means something to you, if you care about doing what is right, and about journalists trying to point out what is wrong, then please spare an hour to come along. It’s time to stand together.

This blog and the Twitter account @calltoarmsnow will in future post court dates for journalists. Come along and show your support for our industry.

“Freedom of exp…

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“Freedom of expression and the public right to know about important matters of public debate are an essential foundation of our society – but there are limits for those who cross the line into criminality.
“These guidelines will assist prosecutors in striking the right balance between those interests in cases affecting the media.
“Journalists, and those who work with them, are not afforded special status under the criminal law, but the public interest served by their actions is a relevant factor in deciding whether they should be prosecuted in an individual case.” Keir Starmer, April 2012