Police Arrest Manchester Photographer For Committing No Crime: He Just Took Photos
POLICE arrested Manchester Evening News photographer Sean Wilton. He was working outside Manchester Magistrates’ Court. Two men were due in court to answer a charge of assaulting Big Fat Gypsy Weddings star Paddy Doherty. When a fight broke out, Wilton took photos. Then the police arrived.
He tells the paper:
“He [policeman] didn’t seem to want to listen and told me that I was obstructing the police. I tried to explain I wasn’t obstructing and was just doing my job, but to no avail. When I tried to speak to him about the situation, he arrested me for breach of the peace. As professional photographers, we do try to conduct ourselves as professionally as possible.”
For sure. So. Why did the police arrest him and bundle him into a police car? Say the police:
“A photographer was arrested to prevent a breach of the peace and on suspicion of obstructing a police officer. Officers brought the situation under control and the photographer was de-arrested and subsequently released.”
That sounds a lot like what we professional hacks call “bollocks”. Instead of using the full might of the law to stop the fight, officers stopped the recording of the fight. Why? Are the police scared to getting captured on film? Are they camera shy?
The paper comments:
We report today how one of our photographers was arrested while taking pictures of a street brawl following a court hearing relating to an assault on Big Fat Gypsy Weddings star Paddy Doherty. Other MEN photographers were threatened with arrest if they did not delete images, but refused to do so.
Our photographer was later released without charge. But serious questions remain about the police’s attitude to professional journalists doing their job in bearing witness to a newsworthy event in a public place in the middle of Manchester.
Wiser judgement prevailed when senior officers became involved. But this unfortunate incident is evidence of a worrying phenomenon, that some rank and file police officers no longer seem to understand or respect the role of the press.
When we reach the stage that constables decide where we can and cannot point a camera in bringing you the news, we will be living in a police state.
Quite so. This is about the police looking after themselves and working apart from the people they are supposed to represent…