The BBC, BskyB and a range of other media organisations yesterday won a High Court case against a series of police orders demanding that footage from the evictions at Dale Farm be handed over as possible evidence.
The travellers based at Dale Farm in Essex were evicted amid violent scenes last October.
At the time several news organisations had set up to film, including Independent Television News, Channel 5 and others. All the outlets joined forces to oppose the police disclosure orders.
In the High Court, lawyers representing the media organisations claimed that they risked being seen as in the pocket of the police if they were to disclose footage which was captured for news purposes.
The footage in question showed scenes of violence as the travellers, along with supporters and sympathisers from outside the community who had joined them, pitched in battles with court bailiffs who were sent to dismantle barricades and evict the residents.
In ruling in favour of the media groups, Mr Justice Eady acknowledged that there was genuine public interest in seeing those who participated in the violence brought to justice. However, he tempered this with the interference which making such orders has with the media's right to enjoy freedom of expression under article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The judge stated that it was for the police to demonstrate that the orders were necessary and proportionate to the offences committed. In ruling against the police he said there was nothing in their case to justify this conclusion.
"Because the cupboard was bare when it came to demonstrating that the material would be of substantial value to the police investigation, the claimants were denied a fair opportunity to demonstrate to the previous court why much, if not the totality, of their material was unlikely to be of any assistance," he said.
The ITN chief executive John Hardie called it a landmark decision.
"This landmark decision is a legal recognition of the separate roles of the police and independent news organisations," he said, welcoming the verdict.
"We fought this case on a matter of principle: to ensure that journalists and cameramen are not seen as agents of the state, and to protect the safety of our staff," he added.