Jason Parkinson


Jason Parkinson is a video journalist who regularly covers marches and demonstrations.

From the G8 protests in Scotland in 2005 and with increasing frequency from 2007, Jason faced constant attention from Forward Intelligence Team police officers and was repeated photographed and filmed. It was clear that there was an increasing focus on journalists and that FIT officers were recording conversations and stopping and searching using anti-terrorism legislation.

After setting up the I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist campaign, the National Union of Journalists launched an investigation into police surveillance, particularly at the Kingsnorth Climate Camp in August 2007 and in October 2008, the union gave evidence to the Joint Committee on Human Rights on police harassment of journalists.

In January 2014, Jason and his partner Jess Hurd received the results of data protect subject access requests that confirmed the police had placed them under surveillance. The documents released by the Metropolitan Police included data from the national domestic extremism database.

Jason’s domestic extremist file categorised him as “XLW” (extreme left wing) and dated back to August 2005. It included 141 separate surveillance logs of his movements during protests he had covered, whom he had associated with and even what clothing he was wearing. His Twitter account and an NUJ Facebook page post were recorded, as was an event he spoke at in 2011 on police surveillance.

As well as information related to his work as a journalist, other information included searches of voter registration records and the Crime Reporting Information System (CRIS) database, where information on witnesses and victims of crime are held.

This pulled up his current and previous addresses and the name of his former partner – who was then checked for a criminal record on the Police National Computer. There was even a record of an officer who spotting him cycling in Wembley.

In November 2014, the NUJ began a legal challenge against the Metropolitan Police Commissioner and the Home Secretary to challenge this ongoing police surveillance.

As well as two short films on the increasing surveillance of journalists covering protests in the UK, Collatoral Damage (2008) and its follow up Hostile Reconnaissance (2010), Jason is working on a documentary, Press Freedom: Domestic Extremist. A trailer is available here.

“The Met Police has behaved like the Stasi. My detailed files read like I am some kind of public enemy, simply for doing my job as a journalist.

“We need to defend our right to free movement and free expression now and halt this surveillance of law-abiding citizens before we lose these rights altogether.”

Jason Parkinson