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November 20, 2013 by · Leave a Comment 

Britain’s National Union of Journalists has warned that police are keeping files on reporters working on controversial stories and including them in a domestic extremist database. As part of today’s (Wednesday) “national day of action on blacklisting,” the NUJ released a statement by member Mark Thomas, the controversial former host of The Mark Thomas Product on Channel 4 and a frequent contributor to British TV magazine and talk shows. In it, Thomas described how he had obtained his own file following a request under the Data Protection Act, the British equivalent of the U.S.’s Freedom of Information Act. What he said he received was 7 pages containing 63 individual entries describing how police had monitored his appearances at lectures, panels, “even petitions I have supported.” In one entry, he said, police noted his appearance at an anti war demonstration, detailing the clothes he was wearing, the type of bicycle he was riding, and quoting from the report, “he said hello to us as he passed and seemed very happy.” Commented Thomas: “This chatty tone noting my emotional wellbeing on their database is wonderfully odd in an Ealing Comedy meets the Stasi [the former East German secret police] sort of way and has all the reassurance of a stalker’s smile.” Thomas concluded: “If the police are keeping tabs on a lightweight like myself then they are doing the same and more to others. This is more than supposition as I know of other NUJ members on the database.” In a statement, NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “As well as Mark, we are aware of some other journalists who are on the domestic extremism database.” She added that the NUJ “is supporting Mark in a legal challenge to challenge this police policy and to demand the deletion of files held on journalists.”