Six journalists sue over surveillance by UK “extremist” police unit

By Sean Gallagher

Six members of the United Kingdom’s National Union of Journalists—including comedian and journalist Mark Thomas—have filed suit against London’s Metropolitan Police after discovering that their daily activities were being monitored and recorded in a police database. The database is gathered by the National Domestic Extremists and Disorder Intelligence Unit, a task force led by the Metropolitan Police Service that tracks political and religious groups in the UK and monitors protests.

In an interview on BBC Radio 4, Thomas said that the surveillance was discovered through information uncovered by a request under the UK’s Data Protection Act—a law similar to the US’ Freedom of Information Act. “The police are gathering information under the domestic extremist list about journalist and NUJ members, “ he said. “And we know this because six of us have applied to the police using the Data Protection Act to get some of the information the police are holding on us on these lists. And what they are doing is monitoring journalists’ activities and putting them under surveillance and creating databases about them.”

Thomas has used the Data Protection Act in the name of both journalism and comedy. In 2001, he launched a contest in …read more

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