Victory for Charlotte's Law: LBC reporter arrested while doing her job inspires new protection for journalists

7 February 2023, 17:57 | Updated: 8 February 2023, 04:26

Lynch was arrested while trying to do her job
Lynch was arrested while trying to do her job. Picture: LBC

By Adam Solomons

An LBC reporter arrested while covering a protest has inspired new protections for journalists in the government's Public Order Bill.

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Charlotte Lynch was detained for seven hours during a Just Stop Oil protest on the M25 last November.

That was despite her carrying credentials and an LBC-branded microphone.

Recalling the incident on LBC the next day, Charlotte admitted she was "absolutely terrified" throughout the ordeal.

Her arrest on November 8 sparked national concern and prompted intervention from the Prime Minister, whose spokesperson told reporters: “It’s vital journalists are able to do their job freely without restriction.”

Amendment 54 to Clause 18 of the Public Order Bill offers special protections for journalists covering protests.

In an exclusive article for LBC tonight, Baroness Chakrabarti writes: "Whichever view we take of [Just Stop Oil protests], we can surely agree that whilst some direct action will inevitably cross a line and justify police arrests, perhaps even criminal prosecution, being a journalist or innocent bystander should not.

"I will never forget Charlotte’s professionalism and courage in reporting on her own ordeal on Nick Ferrari’s morning programme that informs and encourages our democratic debate.

"Sometimes leading Britain's conversation means protecting it."

Read more: Hertfordshire Police apologise to LBC journalist Charlotte Lynch after she was wrongfully arrested covering M25 protest

Read more: 'Arrested for doing my job': LBC's Charlotte Lynch tells of being held in a cell while covering M25 protest

Baroness Chakrabarti secured the passage of the amendment
Baroness Chakrabarti secured the passage of the amendment. Picture: Parliament TV

The amendment states: "A constable may not exercise any police power for the principal purpose of preventing a person from observing or otherwise reporting on a protest or the exercise of police powers in relation to (a) a protest-related offence, (b) a protest-related breach of an injunction, or (c) activities related to a protest."

Its sponsors add: "This new Clause would protect journalists, legal observers, academics, and bystanders who observe or report on protests or the police’s use of powers related to protests."

Two other journalists were also arrested while attending the eco-protests, the pair – who both insisted they had no affiliation with the group and also presented their press cards – had equipment seized and were taken to the police station.

At the time Hertfordshire Police Chief Constable Charlie Hall called for an independent force to examine its approach to the arrests.

It was the third defeat for the government in the House of Lords today, following votes on other amendments in the controversial Public Order Bill.

Charlotte Lynch tells James O'Brien she 'just lost it' while being under arrest

Home Secretary Suella Braverman had instructed Tory peers to block Charlotte's Law from passing.

Sources revealed to LBC that the home secretary was marshalling Conservatives in the upper chamber to reject the amendment's introduction, meaning it was expected to be the latest in a series of heavily contested disputes over the Public Order Bill.

Labour's Lord Falconer said: "It is absolutely obvious that even if the law protects journalists at the moment the police just ignore that.

"What's more, after Charlotte was arrested, the PCC, the police and crime commissioner for Hertfordshire, justified the arrest by saying well the journalists being there incite the protesters by filming them.

"It's an absolute outrage.

"The minister's answer, namely 'Don't you worry, things are okay, the law's fine', is absolutely nonsense."

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