Top Gear photographer story: BBC speaks out (update)

The BBC has moved to distance itself from comments made by a freelance Top Gear photographer who blasted the attitude of the Metropolitan Police towards photographers.

rights watch
The BBC has moved to distance itself from comments made by a freelance Top Gear photographer who blasted the attitude of the Metropolitan Police towards photographers.

Earlier this week freelance stills photographer Justin Leighton - who shoots behind-the-scenes for the Top Gear programme and magazine - said that taking photographs in London often raises suspicion, even in areas where permission has already been given to shoot.

Leighton, who works for BBC Worldwide, condemned the 'nightmare' attitude of the Met's officers, and in particular, Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs).

The photographer blamed the behaviour of London's police for restricting his shoots to locations away from the capital.

However, a BBC spokeswoman told Amateur Photographer: 'The BBC does not share these views.'

The Corporation declined to comment further.

We understand that the makers of Top Gear may be reluctant to further inflame photographers' relations with the Met.

Leighton's comments chime with many photographers, both amateur and professional, who continue to complain about the attitude of police.

Last year, the escalating issue moved Amateur Photographer magazine to launch its nationwide campaign to defend photographers' rights.

On Sunday BBC photographer Jeff Overs told the Andrew Marr Show he was stopped while taking photos on London's South Bank amid fears he was planning a reconnaissance operation for a terrorist attack.

Today, the anti-terror watchdog, Lord Carlile again criticised police use of anti-terrorism powers to stop photographers.

In a front page story in The Independent Carlile said: 'The police have to be very careful about stopping people who are taking what I would call leisure photographs, and indeed professional photographers.'

He added: 'The fact that someone is taking photographs is not prima facie a good reason for stop and search and is very far from raising suspicion.

'It is a matter of concern and the police will know that they have to look at this very carefully.'

Earlier this year The Independent contacted AP for details of the magazine's ongoing campaign to fight for the rights of photographers.

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