EDL documentary pulled due to police investigation

Right to Left (Credit: Racked Entertainment)

Right to Left (Credit: Racked Entertainment)

It comes as little surprise that Brighton based production company Racked Entertainment have had to remove their documentary Right To Left from YouTube, following an extensive police investigation regarding some of their footage. The documentary followed EDL member Tommy English around Brighton during the “March for England”; an event which is supposedly an annual celebration of St George, but conveniently doubles as an excuse for angry drunken men to throw islamophobic insults (and chairs) around. Not that the violence is always started by the far-right though; Right To Left was effective at displaying the march from both sides of the political divide.

“The whole thing was an adventure”

The documentary included several very tense stand offs and scuffles between the far-right marchers and their detractors, with a few scenes containing violence and rioting. “It was the most challenging, complicated, scariest, exciting and fun thing Zak and I have ever done” says director Jody Doherty Cove. “The whole thing was an adventure”.

The success of the film came from the detached way the footage was presented. It was almost the antithesis of a Louis Theroux documentary, in the sense that the viewer was able to spectate on the unfolding events, without having them force-fed down their throats by a presenter. Without professing support for the EDL or for their anarchist adversaries “Antifa”, the camera acted as a periscope, allowing us to march with both sides from the comfort of our own bedrooms.

This explains the positive reception. “The EDL have been over the moon with the documentary as they feel it is the only un-biased one that’s been made of them” explains Jody. “Similarly a few members of the anti-protest have been in touch to tell us they liked the film – they too thought it was an accurate portrayal of the events on the day”.

So why did it have to be taken down? “A large majority of the footage in the film is now part of a vast police investigation which is planning to track down and prosecute those involved in violence on the day” says Jody. Having been contacted by the police himself, he says that him and another crew member have refused to give their statements, in order “to preserve the credibility of the documentary”. The main issue however is with regards to a small section of the film which criticises the police force’s handling of the Mark Duggan shooting.

The offending clip (Credit: Racked Entertainment)

The offending clip (Credit: Racked Entertainment)

Having received legal advice, Jody clarifies that “One part of the film was flagged up by latest TV’s legal department as slanderous to the police and could open ourselves up to being sued”. It reflects poorly on the police that people assume their response to criticism is to act in such a heavy handed manner, but it is arguably a justified assumption. Officers are happy to assist those documentary makers from large TV production companies, who are embedded in police vehicles recording ‘good honest policing’ in order to improve the force’s media image. On the other hand, small citizen journalists are a real issue for the police. The age of the internet means that anything can be recorded, put on YouTube, and copied innumerable times. For the most part this means a victory for transparency and a defeat for oppressive police tactics, however extra scrutiny is not always welcomed with open arms.

“The EDL are planning to put it on their homepage”

Will Right To Left be popping up on any other video sites? “Well, we’re still in contact with Tommy English and he informs us that the EDL are planning to put it on their homepage”, Jody tells me. “We have no affiliations with them, and we’ve told them as much” he firmly adds.

The fatal shooting of Mark Duggan was a watershed moment for public-police relations. Clearly, the subject is still a raw one. However, the fact that independent documentary makers are having their work effectively censored due to fear of police prosecution is worrying, both for art, and for freedom of speech. Will we be seeing a neutered version, with the police-offending scenes removed? “Neutered implies it’s lost some of its balls. The scene talking about Mark Duggan will unquestionably be taken out; however this is only a 20 second clip in a 45 minute long film”.

We can expect to see more documentaries of a similar style from Racked Entertainment in the near future. In a vein not dissimilar to Vice, their next film will be about religious cults. “Religion gives the perfect backdrop for the issues that Zak and I are fascinated by, and the overbearing nature of a cult adds to the sinister undertone to the film, which will make it so interesting to watch” explains Jody. They plan to spend a week or two in a religious commune, emulating how they live. “We want to expose ourselves to the religious rhetoric that some members face 24/7 for decades”. I for one will wait with baited breath.

“Sounds Of Brighton”, a feature length documentary about Brighton’s buskers, will be out next month on Racked Entertainment’s YouTube Channel.

Update: Racked Entertainment have re-released a censored version. Watch it here.

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