Journalist secretly labeled as leftwing extremist wins court case

Michael Segalov sued Sussex police for preventing him from attending a high-profile political party conference in 2017.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
Journalist secretly labeled as leftwing extremist wins court case - NewsMavens
Michael Segalov, YouTube

Why this story matters:

Journalists often face difficult situations and, in some cases, grave danger, as they try to tell stories. Being allowed to observe and report on key events is integral to our profession. 

One British journalist was denied access by police to a high-profile political conference in 2017 for having engaged with protesters and demonstrations as part of his job as a journalist.

The high court ruled last week that the police force in question acted unlawfully in banning him from the event, in a move Segalov said was important for press freedom.

I have also faced scrutiny and judgement (though not by the police) through my work when dealing with high-tension, political issues. But conflating a journalist's work on contentious subjects or people -- when objective and well-reported -- with their personal actions and beliefs, is mistaken.

Press freedom is integral to any functioning democracy which is able to hold power to account and inform the public. Engaging with, and interviewing, people involved in notable or controversial movements is part of that.

Details from the story:

  • Michael Segalov, a Guardian journalist and news editor for Huck, a UK counterculture magazine, was refused security clearance to the Labour Party's 2017 conference by Sussex police.
  • The force said he had not passed "necessary police security checks" and alleged he was a “known extreme leftwing (XLW) activist”.
  • Their reasoning was based on Segalov's alleged attendance at peaceful protests and engagement with direct action. This led the police to reject clearance on the basis he “might get involved in actions that would disrupt the conference”.
  • The journalist, who has never been arrested but has been in contact with Sussex police since 2013, rejected the allegation.
  • Segalov sued, and the high court ruled on November 23 2018 that the decision made by police was unlawful.
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