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JUDGE: POLICE WRONG TO ARREST ONTARIO JOURNALISTS

OTTAWA / October 22, 2018 — Ontario Court Justice Glen Donald blamed poor police communication for an incident leading to the arrest of two journalists. The judge concluded that the arrests should never have happened, and the reporters had every right to be on an accident scene observing police actions.

"The Canadian Association of Journalists is pleased this decision upheld media rights, however, I'm mindful that reporters John and Brett Hueston suffered personal and financial stress over the 16 months it took to process this case. They had to buy new cameras, as theirs were seized by police, plus they now have court expenses for defending themselves against an arrest that we all know should never have happened," said Karyn Pugliese, president of the CAJ.

The Justice dismissed all charges against John Hueston, 67, and his 34-year-old son Brett, a father and son team who run the Aylmer Gazette in Ontario.

The original incident occurred on June 24, 2017, when the Huestons arrived to take photographs at an accident scene where police were recovering a vehicle with a body inside from Lake Erie.

A police officer told the men to leave the scene. The Huestons insisted they had a right, as media, to be present and asked to speak to a supervisor. After a brief conversation the supervisor ordered them to be handcuffed and hauled off to jail. Their cameras were seized and held for nine months.

“The police did not do the right thing in the first place – they interfered with the ability of journalists to do their job and inform the public. They also failed to do the right thing in the second place, by refusing to admit they made a mistake and forcing the issue to court,” said Pugliese.

Pugliese noted that the CAJ has been in touch with the father and son team since the case went public earlier this year, and has seen the emotional and financial stress caused as a result.

“I hope, in future, this decision compels police officers to recognize the important democratic role media have in serving the public’s right to know,” Pugliese added.

The CAJ is Canada's largest national professional organization for journalists from all media, representing over 600 members across the country. The CAJ's primary roles are to provide high-quality professional development for its members and public-interest advocacy.

For more information:

Karyn Pugliese, CAJ president

karyn@caj.ca

204-995-1071

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