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Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Compare and contrast

Rishi Sunak was absolutely right when he used his first foreign policy speech as Prime Minister to warn of the creeping authoritarianism of Xi Jinping’s regime in China, including throwing his support behind protesters by condemning Beijing’s crackdown on civil disobedience and the assault on a BBC journalist.

However, I have yet to hear a government spokesperson, let alone a government minister, condemn the arrest and detention of a documentary photographer, a press photographer and two reporters, who were covering an eco-protest by Just Stop Oil on the M25.

As the Press Gazette reports, these journalists were arrested and detained by police for filming an eco-protest by Just Stop Oil on the M25:

Rich Felgate published a film on Twitter showing himself and photographer Tom Bowles being arrested. 

The pair peacefully asserted that they were journalists filming from a public area (a bridge over the M25) and offered to show their press cards.

They were arrested anyway and held for 13 hours.

LBC reporter Charlotte Lynch was also arrested covering the M25 protests despite holding a press card. She was held for five hours.

Shami Chakrabarti, the former shadow attorney general, told LBC today: “If the police are now going to start arresting journalists for conspiracy to commit a public nuisance – in other words for knowing that a demonstration is about to take place – then they are effectively shutting down the free press, the free media, in this country.

“And that means the public don’t get the opportunity to judge for themselves whether the police have policed a particular demonstration well or badly, or indeed whether the protesters behaved well or badly.

“So this is very, very serious.”

On the video showing the arrest of Felgate and Bowles, the latter can be heard saying: “I’m sorry officer you can’t arrest me, I’m a member of the press, would you like to see my press card.” But as he was doing so he was placed in handcuffs.

One of the officers said: “You are being detained under section one of PACE.”

This law allows police officer stop, detain and search someone if they believe they will find stolen or prohibited articles.

Felgate can be heard saying on the video: “I’m quite obviously a member of the press, I’ve got cameras and I am in a public place.”

Felgate said that while he was held by police they asked him for information about his sources and wanted the PIN to access his phone.

Bowles said that three male officers arrived at his home at 11pm, woke his wife and daughter and carried out a search. He said he finally arrived home at 3.30am.

Felgate said he believes at least seven journalists have been arrested covering Just Stop Oil protests and that he has been arrested twice in the last month.

Isn't it time the Prime Minister got his own house in order, to avert the sort of police state developing here that he is criticising elsewhere?

Hypocrisy is part of the Conservatives ideology.Blame others. forget our own evils for we want your votes
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