Press vests and passes do not grant any person an immunity from criminal liability
Under the Police Force Ordinance and the Offences against the Person Ordinance, it is an offence for any person to assault, resist or deliberately obstruct the police in the execution of their lawful duties. The maximum penalty for such an offence is imprisonment for two years. There is no exemption for journalists. While we treasure free speech, this is to be balanced against society’s interests. The law applies to everyone, and journalists should be mindful of exercising press freedom lawfully and reasonably. A balance must be struck between the need for fair and accurate reporting and the public interest in the police carrying out their lawful duties. Press vests and passes symbolise a responsibility to lawfully report the facts fairly and without bias, but do not grant any person an immunity from criminal liability.
The rule of law means that no one is above the law (per Lord Justice Denning).
Journalists should bear in mind that under the Prohibition on Face Covering Regulation, if a police officer reasonably believes a person (including a journalist) in a public place is using a facial covering to prevent identification, he has the power to stop and require that person to remove his/her facial covering for an identity verification. In that situation, that person must remove his/her facial covering when being so asked, and if not, the police officer may remove the facial covering. Any person who fails to comply with this requirement commits an offence and is liable to a fine and imprisonment for 6 months.