In an open letter sent to the Leveson Inquiry, which was set up to investigate the behaviour of journalists following the News of the World hacking scandal, the British Press Photographers' Association has requested to be added to the Inquiry's list of core participants.
"In the light of the nature of the evidence being given to The Inquiry by various celebrity witnesses, the association's board took the decision that we needed to make a submission and to seek to give evidence in person," reads the statement. "In reading the list of persons and organisations that may be considered as Core Participants, the association believes that the weight of commentary during the opening weeks of the Inquiry makes press photographers 'subject to explicit or significant criticism during the inquiry proceedings or in its report.'
The BPPA represents full-time, part-time and freelance press photographers in the UK.
"As a profession attracting a great deal of criticism we would further contend that such a diverse group will not be represented in an equitable and fair way at an inquiry," the BPPA adds. "Press photographers are, for various reasons, the very visible face of the UK print media. Because of this we are regularly subjected to false attribution and accusations as well as verbal abuse from members of the public and from a significant number of people who work in the celebrity, entertainment and even law and order industries. The continuous use of pejorative terms such as ‘paparazzi' about the widest spectrum of news photographers harms our collective reputations."
The BPPA says that, if it were allowed to testify in front of the Inquiry, it would present evidence of press photographers' culture and practices, but would also warn against the introduction of French-style privacy laws. It would also provide proposals to help "control the problems of unethical photographers and citizen journalists with cameras."
For more information, visit www.thebppa.com.
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