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Culture, communication and control

Journalists Arrested in the UK for political reasons - Policing the News

From Tash's website

Increasing numbers of journalists in the UK are being arrested by the police, missing their deadlines, then being released without charge. A clear abuse of police powers.

Police are increasingly using various legal devices and violence, to remove photographers from the scene of actions where the police feel they may be portrayed in a less flattering light!

Arrest on a spurious 'holding' charge, later to be released without charge, having missed deadline is a favourite one:

* Alan Lodge see the rest of my web-site for details: from Stonehenge, the Battle of the Beanfield resulting in civil case, Reclaim the streets, Operation Nomad and yet another civil case., and bloody onwards ...!

* 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, June 18th etc

* 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. Shell HQ protest, London

* 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 and Justin Cooke reporter and photographer working for the Big Issue Manchester, charged with aggravated trespass while covering demonstration at open cast mine/

* 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.

Well, good grief! It seems OK then, for the police to go undercover as demonstrators etc and film activists in action covertly. They then get to use that material in prosecutions and intelligence with their 'spin', as they see fit with little restriction.

However, they appear to find it convenient to think that a photographer covering an action or demonstration where they may feel their work might be critical of police, might in fact be an undercover demonstrator! Police say the media is sometimes a cover for activist. To form this opinion is, of course, a useful ploy.

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