It will be interesting to see if the new Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson reacts to this protest against the stupid and repressive Labour Government's terrorism laws, and the inept way in which some of his officers interpret them:
Monday, 9th February 2009
Comedian Mark Thomas is to join with NUJ members in an event to highlight the threat of a new UK law that could be used against press photographers taking pictures of the police.
The Counter Terrorism Act allows for the arrest and imprisonment of anyone whose pictures are "likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".
The union is joining with campaigners to organise a mass picture taking session outside London's police HQ on Monday 16 February - the day the act becomes law.
Mark - who uses his comedy act to expose state and corporate wrongdoing - will be joined outside New Scotland Yard by renowned documentary-maker Chris Atkins, NUJ vice-president Pete Murray and a bevy of photographers.
Photojournalist and NUJ member Marc Vallée said: "The plan is simple, turn up with your camera and exercise your democratic right to take a photograph in a public place."
There have already been cases of photographers stopped from working by police quoting anti-terror laws.
John Toner, the NUJ's organiser who looks after freelance photographers, said: "Police officers are in news pictures at all sorts of events - football matches, carnivals, state processions - so the union wants to make it clear that taking their pictures is not the act of a criminal.
"Our members are photographers - not terrorists."
Roy Mincoff, NUJ Legal Officer, said: "Photographers do not want to endanger the health and safety of the police or the public - but it is important in a democracy that they can do their jobs properly without facing unnecessary legal restrictions."
The photo taking will start at 11am outside New Scotland Yard on Broadway, London.
Monday 16rh February 2009, from 11am
Location Map - Broadway, London, SW1
Nearest Tube Station is St. James's Park
Remember, that, very sneakily, New Scotland Yard is just within the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 ss 132 -138 Designated Area around Parliament Square (see the ParliamentProtest.org.uk blog for details), and so the Metroplitan Police may attempt to arrest people, or to impose arbitrary Conditions etc.
- Marc Vallée's blog: Media Event: "I'm a Photographer ... not a Terrorist"
- British Journal of Photography: NUJ, activists and BJP calls for photography rights event
See our previous blog articles for background links: