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Police target journalists

nu | 13.04.2005 12:59 | Free Spaces | Indymedia | Repression

Police are increasingly using various 'legal devices' and violence, to remove independent journalists from the scene of actions were the police feel that their actions may be portrayed in a less flattering light. Arrests are often spurious 'holding' charges and those arrested are normally either later released without charge or have charges dropped before they reach court. Such arrests mean missed deadlines and also mean that the police are able to act safe in the knowledge that with no cameras around it will be their word against the protestors...

The following is a list of just some of the people arrested while covering issues of political interest:

* Alan Lodge: freelance photographer, arrested during the Battle of the Beanfield resulting in civil case, Reclaim the streets, Operation Nomad and yet another civil case. and more.

* Ben Gibson of the Observer: Arrested for obstruction at the `Battle of the Beanfield' near Stonehenge. Charges later dropped.

* David Hoffman freelancer: Frequently arrested (and assaulted) by the Metropolitan Police. Welling east London, Poll tax riots, Dockers/Reclaim the Streets etc), Has been awarded damages against them.

* John Warburton freelance on job for Daily Telegraph, working with New Age Travellers in the SW England. Arrested while covering traveller site evictions.

* Nick Cobbing freelancer: Arrested and removed from scene while trying to cover the eviction of environmental protesters at proposed site of Manchester Airport. Again at an Animal rights demo, Oxford

* John Fraser Williams HTV producer: sustained two broken ribs after being truncheoned while reporting on the Manchester Airport

* Roddy Mansfield of `Undercurrents' recently arrested for the sixth time while recording events at a street party by the group `Reclaim the Streets' in Bristol. Again at an Animal rights demo, Oxford

* Simon Chapman (photographer) Arrested after covering a protest against genetically modified crops at Totnes , Devon. Deadlines missed, later released without charge.

* Ben Edwards (i-Contact Video) Arrested after covering a protest against genetically modified crops at Totnes , Devon. Tapes seized at time, deadlines missed, later released without charge.

* Ursuala Wills Jones writer and photographer ? details.

* Paul Smith photographer protest at proposed site of Manchester Airport. Charges latter dropped.

* Campbell Thomas daily mail freelance. Bilderberg meeting, Scotland 1998. charges dropped.

* Martin Palmer video journo from portsmouth. Hillgrove Farm, anti-vivsection protest. Tapes seized and returned 6 months later no explanation or charge.

* Maggie Lambert mature student at Newport College, charged with conspiracy to trespass while photographing anti-motorway protest at Twyford Down.

* John Harris and Neil Plumb photographers charged with trespass under Aviation Security Act after arrest at demonstration against veal export at Coventry Airport, Charges later dropped, compensation awarded.

* Rob Todd photographer raided for photographs of hunt sabs, Police used improper warrant (ignoring police and criminal evidence procedure for journalist material). When challenged, they gave him a choice of giving them what they wanted, or having ALL his film and equipment seized.

* David Sims freelance photographer: detained for 11 hours, being arrested for breach of the peace at Greenpeace demo against arrival of genetically modified soya beans into Liverpool Docks. Was arrested in spite of repeatedly showing his NUJ card. Police returned camera, but kept roll of film.

* Terry Kane freelance photographer. Arrested covering animal rights demonstrations at Shamrock Farm near Brighton in January 2000. Arrested under section 14 of the Public Order Act. Police deliberatly ignored NUJ press card. Was held for 9 hours and released at midnight, thus missing his news deadlines. Case later dismissed after the police own video evidence discredited their version of events. Will now be starting civil action against Sussex Police.

* Mike Taylor Sec of Bristol NUJ Branch Arrested at Heathrow Airport, at demonstration against the deportation of Iraqi Kurdish asylum seeker in August 2000.

* Andrew Wiard & Jess Hurd freelance photographers & a TV camera Operator, all prevented from filming at Heathrow Airport by police. They were informed that they were on private property and that it was an offence to be there, unless travelling! Waird said, "treatment is unprecedented. Press photographers frequently take picture at Heathrow, without anyone's permission". TV operator carried on working and was promptly thrown in back of police van, though subsequently released after a period. Not charged, just inconvenienced!. They pointed out, press card is recognised by the met police, reply: "oh, but we're Heathrow Police". (who are or course, part of the met police. Hay ho….)

* · Adrian Arbib freelance photographer. Had his camera taken away, and was assaulted by Kent Police. He went to photograph the recently 'banned' Horsemonden Romany horse fair. On photographing a roadblock at the huge police operation. Was told not to photograph as it was "against the law." He continued, and was arrested. He did not resist, however they continued to assault him. He has complained.

* · Zoe Broughton - video-journalist Following a tip-off, the freelance video reporter accompanied Greenpeace activists as they occupied a waste incineration plant in Sheffield. May 2001. The first day went as planned; Broughton's footage of the occupation made the regional television news. Wanting to cover the action in its entirety, however, she returned the next day as the activists prepared to leave the plant following a court order demanding their removal. After being allowed to film them being arrested and put into police vans she too was suddenly arrested "despite making it very clear that I was a freelance reporter". Broughton was held in custody while her house was turned upside down by police and her camera equipment seized. She had returned to police stations twice since her arrest in May as they continue to consider charges of "conspiracy to cause criminal damage".

(listed taken from



And some good news

13.04.2005 17:29

this is old news but relevent to the above...

THREE PHOTOJOURNALISTS have won £18,000 in compensation from Thames Valley Police after being wrongfully arrested while covering an animal rights protest in Oxford.
Roddy Mansfield from the Undercurrents video group, Nick Cobbing from Stern magazine and Allesandro Nani of FI-CREA Florence won the payout after a three-year battle, backed by the NUJ. They had been detained when trying to leave a protest in December 1998. They were handcuffed and had their equipment and footage confiscated and held in custody for 20 hours.
When they sued for wrongful arrest, Thames Valley police declared their claim for compensation to be "spurious and wholly without foundation". Police lawyers changed their minds after seeing video footage proving that the journalists had been told that they were free to leave.
Roddy Mansfield said the case was a victory for a campaign by the NUJ to establish that journalists carrying press accreditation should be free to operate without restraint at marches, protests and other events which represent a potential threat to public order.
Nick Cobbing said: "The case took three years out of my life to get this result including time spent wading through video footage. If I'd spent that time taking pictures I could have earned twice as much. So the result wasn't about money; it's about challenging bad policing and about defending the right to report".
Thames Valley Police's treatment of the press at animal rights demonstrations around Oxford has been a controversial subject. There were particular problems at a car farm near Whitney, where photographers had been stopped from working. The NUJ had talks with police and sent an official observer to one protest at the farm, to ensure journalists were fairly treated.
Tim Gopsill, the NUJ representative on the UK Press Card Scheme, said the union was pleased at the outcome. "These photographers had all shown press cards that police simply would not accept and if this means that in future they will respect the card then that's great.
"We are pleased particularly for Nick Cobbing, who was wrongly arrested and convicted of trespass while covering an environmental protest five years ago."


It is time journalists stood up to the police.

14.04.2005 09:15

A little personal story of the police and media...

I was at a blockade of a Sainsbury's depot to protest against ther use of GM animal feed. A few people had locked themselves onto lorries therefore blocking the depot. Of course the police turned up, as did the local TV and press. After taking a few photos the police told the press and TV to go away - which they unquestioningly did. I was not arrested, but under threat of arrest was frogmarched up the road away from the scene. There the press were hanging about, i asked them why they had obeyed police orders not to be at the scene of the blockade and that as they were journalists and the protest was on a public highway they had every right to be there. They didn't answer and just looked at me as if i was mad!!! If journalists adopt the attitude that these showed then the police will be able to manipulate and spin any story they want!