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Monday, October 03, 2005

A picture can tell a story

Interesting article in the Guardian this morning about the new found aversion of Government and the Police to photographers.

The deletion of all the photographs on MP, Austin Mitchell's camera by a police officer at Labour Party Conference is already documented elsewhere. Many of us had just taken it as an example of New Labour's control freakery. However, the article puts forward evidence that leads me to believe that this tendency is becoming more widespread and suggests a rather disturbing attempt by some police officers to exceed their powers so as to restrict long-held liberties:

"Basically the police don't want you there," says Peter Macdiarmuid of Getty. "They will try and control access to any major incident, as you'd expect. What's changed since 7/7 is that it appears we're excluded from where the public are standing. The anti-terrorism act has been given as a reason for us to be removed. There's been various incidents of colleagues being poked in the chest with guns."

The deputy chair of the BPPA, Ed Mulholland, claims police cordons are "set up arbitrarily" and the public are allowed to gawp at incidents even as his colleagues are prevented from photographing them.

Moore says photographers' relations with senior Met officers, particularly assistant commissioner Brian Paddick, are good."The trouble is at the more junior level," he says. "I think it's paranoia, ignorance and dislike." When he complained to Brian Cox, the Met's chief press officer, that photographers were being denied proper access to the sites of the July bombings, he says Cox acted quickly and sent three officers to ensure they could photograph the scenes. "But when they left it reverted to the same as before."

It is when basic liberties are eroded in this way that we know that the terrorists are winning.
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