- The general area in question was a site controlled and operated by Basildon Borough Council.
- Access to the site was, and is, strictly controlled because of the general requirement for proper insurance and the real risk that the site would be targeted by violent protesters.
- All visitors have to go through an accreditation process, which includes the issue of safety gear. This typically takes a day, so apply on the Wednesday, and access granted on Thursday etc.
- The site includes a media area, arranged for their convenience but also to prevent journalists getting in the way of heavy machinery etc.
- Subject to obvious practical considerations, journalists do not and did not confine themselves to the Council's media area. Interviews and reports were made from many other locations in and around Dale Farm.
- Richard Howitt had asked to come onto the Council site and was accredited for Thursday 20th. There is an email trail to his office confirming this. He was not accredited for Wednesday 19th.
- Mr. Howitt came on site in a media vehicle, with gate security mistakenly assuming he was a media staffer. He then proceeded to the Council's media area and presented himself for interviews and so on.
- The operational command structure decided that Mr. Howitt should be removed from the Council site. That means exactly what it says; the Dale Farm clearance being run under the standard Gold/Silver/Bronze model that is used for large scale operations. It was not a decision for Councillors, though I am fully support it and I would have made the same call had it been up to me.
- Mr. Howitt was duly removed from the Council site.
There is also the matter of the astonishing bad faith displayed by Mr. Howitt in sneaking onto the Council site when he was officially due the next day.
Hang on though, what about free speech? Well, what was stopping Mr. Howitt exercising his rights somewhere else? There were plenty of journalists not on the Council site, why didn't he go and talk to them? I note that his ejection from the Council site did not not put an end to his media activities on that day.
What was he even doing there?