Police ban photographer’s London Eye pics

An amateur photographer has lodged a complaint with the police watchdog after officers stopped him photographing the London Eye.

London Eye

One of the images Rik Rutter managed to shoot before he was stopped by police

An amateur photographer has lodged a complaint with the police watchdog after officers stopped him photographing the London Eye.

Rik Rutter tried to take a few photos of the popular tourist attraction after a visit to the nearby London Aquarium on the capital’s South Bank.

But Rik - who was with his five-year-old niece - was approached by two police officers who told him he was not allowed to photograph the London Eye’s ‘structure’.

Rik said police did not given a reason for the stop, which occurred on 9 January but has only just been reported to Amateur Photographer.

‘As I framed the image on my camera’s display a police officer stopped me saying that I was not allowed to take photos,’ said Rik who was using an Olympus Pen E-P1 digital compact system camera and zoom lens.

‘I looked around in disbelief as there were numerous other tourists with cameras taking photographs,’ wrote Rik in a letter of complaint to New Scotland Yard demanding an explanation.

As a teacher at The Windsor Boys’ School in Berkshire, he had planned to take pictures of the cables that support the London Eye to help educate pupils.

‘I had been discussing with my physics class how everything has a natural frequency at which it vibrates and how the vibration dampeners absorb frequencies that might result in a cable building up a dangerous “hum”.

'I thought I would photograph the device to show them.’

Police told Rik that ‘general photographs’ were acceptable, but that images of the structure were strictly off limits.

‘There were no signs to say that photographs were not to be taken and I have always understood it to be one of the freedoms that we have in this country that photographs can be taken in any public place. But not being sure of this point I dutifully put my camera away.’

In a written reply to Rik, more than a month later, Commander David Zinzan from the Metropolitan Police said: ‘There are no legal restrictions on photography in a public place in the circumstances you have described and I am therefore sorry if you have been caused inconvenience on this occasion.’

Furious at the slow response from the Met, Rik had already complained to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).

Rik said he may withdraw his complaint to the IPCC in light of the Met's response which he received today.

In its review of counter-terrorism, published last month the Government vowed to improve guidelines available to police when dealing with photographers.

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