Ice cream photographer quizzed under 'terrorism act' (update 9.50pm)
NEWS UPDATE 9.50PM: CENTRE ISSUES APOLOGY
NEWS UPDATE TUESDAY 11AM
The news comes just a month after police chiefs told security guards to adopt a common sense approach when dealing with photographers.
Staff at an ice cream stall in Braehead shopping centre, near Glasgow, became suspicious when they saw White, 45, taking pictures of his four-year-old daughter Hazel at around 4pm on Friday afternoon.
‘He [the security guard] said I had been spotted taking photos in the shopping centre which was “illegal”… and then asked me to delete the ones I had taken,’ White told Amateur Photographer (AP).
White - who had been using a Sony Ericsson Xperia mini mobile phone - said he had explained to the official that he was the girl's father.
But, when he said he had already uploaded two images to Facebook, and refused to delete them, the guard called police.
Two police officers arrived on the scene a few minutes later.
One of the officers told White there had been a complaint about him taking pictures and that a ban on photography was in force inside the shopping centre.
White - who said he had not seen any clearly displayed signs to that effect - said the police officer then told him there were ‘privacy issues around photographs’ to which he replied that he had waited until only his daughter was in shot.
‘He [the officer] then said that under the Prevention of Terrorism Act he was quite within his rights to confiscate my mobile phone [as I had not given] any explanation for taking photos within a public shopping centre.
'This seems an abuse of the Act,' said White who confirmed to AP that he has lodged a complaint with Strathclyde Police.
‘He then said that, on this occasion, he would allow me to keep the photos, but he wanted to take my full details.’
White, an amateur photographer who works as a mental health trainer, said the officer recorded details in a note book, including his name, address and place of birth.
'He gave no indication about why he wanted these details or what he intended to do with them,' White told AP this lunchtime.
'I was doing what families do - taking photographs of their kids.'
In a statement, Braehead Shopping Centre said the security guard had ‘approached the man and politely asked if he had been taking photographs. At no time in the initial conversation was the member of our security staff informed by the man that the child in question was his daughter’.
'No Photography' policy
The centre added that its ‘no photography’ policy is there to ‘protect the privacy of staff and shoppers’ and that it does not intend to stop 'innocent family members taking pictures'.
The statement continued: ‘Secondly, and sadly, we live in a world of potential threats from terrorists and everyone is being urged by the police to be vigilant at all times.
‘It is not uncommon for those intending to make some kind of attack to take photographs of their intended target as part of their planning before the event.'
Though the centre’s management admit that the incident had ‘nothing to do with a potential terrorist attack’ they maintain that staff are within their rights to question a man taking photos of a child.
Superintendent George Nedley, of Strathclyde Police, said in a statement: ’I can confirm that police were asked to speak to this gentleman at Braehead on Friday 7 October.
‘My officers attended and gave advice and no further action was taken by the police officers.
‘I can confirm we have received a complaint regarding this incident and one of my officers has spoken to Mr White regarding this.
‘As a result, a full review of the circumstances surrounding the incident and the allegations made is underway.’
When contacted by AP this morning, a police spokeswoman refused to confirm or deny whether officers had questioned White under anti-terrorism laws.
A source close to the force's internal investigation suggested, however, that officers did not cite terrorism legislation.
Neither would police confirm whether an officer recorded the photographer's personal details.
The force declined to comment further in light of its ongoing investigation into the complaint.
The photographer's plight triggered an outpouring of disbelief on Facebook with many expressing shock at the way the incident was handled.
Protesters have set up a Facebook page calling on people to boycott the shopping centre. By 7.00pm this evening more than 14,000 people said they 'like' the Facebook page.
Doug Ross, a local photojournalist who has been following the case over the weekend, told AP: ‘Common sense seems to have been taken around the back of the block and given a damn good kicking.’
Giving his initial reaction, Mark Singleton, of photo rights campaigning website SceneThat, said: 'On the face of what we have been told, this sounds like a totally unacceptable application of authority by a few individual police and security officers.'
Last month, we revealed that an amateur photographer stands to win thousands of pounds in an out-of-court settlement after suing Lancashire Police for unlawful arrest.
In September, AP learned that Project Griffin, a controversial counter-terrorism initiative, was to be extended to Scotland.
Chris White contacted AP shortly after the incident on Friday, in view of the magazine's ongoing campaign to defend photographers' rights.
Earlier today, ITV's Daybreak contacted AP, saying they plan to screen an interview with the photographer tomorrow morning.
WATCH BBC SCOTLAND VIDEO HERE
Picture credit: Chris White