Amateur photographer in police payout talks

An amateur photographer who was stopped while taking photographs in public is negotiating an out-of-court settlement worth thousands of pounds after suing police for wrongful arrest.

Rights Watch
AP EXCLUSIVE

An amateur photographer who was stopped while taking photographs in public is negotiating an out-of-court settlement worth thousands of pounds after suing police for wrongful arrest.

Robert Patefield, from Colne, said Lancashire Police have offered to pay him ‘damages plus costs’, which he has accepted.

The photographer filed a civil action against the Chief Constable of Lancashire Constabulary, claiming he was unlawfully arrested while taking photos of Christmas festivities in Accrington in December 2009.

The photographer, a recent runner-up in the Dog Photographer of the Year competition, was released without charge after reportedly being held in custody for eight hours.

Patefield said the total payout will run into 'thousands', though he declined to disclose the actual figure.

Police deny that a deal has been reached but the force's lawyers have confirmed to Amateur Photographer that discussions are taking place.

Patefield and a fellow photographer were at first quizzed by officers citing anti-terrorism laws.

Police later claimed that some members of the public had raised concerns about Patefield’s photography and accused him of taking photographs that could be deemed 'anti-social' .

Patefield said he was arrested after refusing to give officers his personal details.

The case attracted global attention as Patefield recorded the entire incident on a video subsequently published by The Guardian online.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police denied that a settlement has been agreed.

‘No settlement has been reached at this time,’ the police spokesman told Amateur Photographer, declining to comment further as discussions were ongoing.

Sadie Seabrook, a barrister at law firm Barlow Lyde & Gilbert, which is acting on behalf of the force, said: ‘Any discussions between Mr Patefield’s legal advisors and our client are “without prejudice” and as such are confidential.’

'I will defend my rights'

The photographer told us: ‘I have the greatest respect for all constables… I know their job can be a very difficult one.

‘That said, I will always defend my rights and freedoms and I would encourage others to do the same.’

Speaking at the time, Patefield said: 'I consider myself to be a very law-abiding man. I was taking photos of everyday street goings-on.

‘There was a Father Christmas, a piped-band and people in fancy dress.'

Patefield maintains that CCTV footage showed that his photography was not anti-social and that no-one had complained to police about his behaviour.

Speaking last year, a Lancashire Police spokeswoman said its officers do not routinely stop people taking photographs in a public place but 'clearly felt that the manner in which he was positioning his [Leica] camera and the way it was making some members of the public feel, could be construed as anti-social or indecent'.

She added: 'The gentleman refused to co-operate on three occasions and so officers felt they had no choice but to make an arrest in order to make further enquiries into his actions.'

The spokeswoman later claimed ‘some members of the public did speak with us and raise some concerns’.

Police today declined to comment further on the photographer's arrest, referring us back to their original statement.

Camera

Tips on choosing a camera

Top and advice on how to choose a camera...