A BBC photographer who was stopped under anti-terror laws while taking pictures of St Paul’s Cathedral has been told that his complaint is part of a wider investigation by the police watchdog.

Last Friday BBC stills photographer Jeff Overs met with Metropolitan Police representatives to discuss his complaint.

Overs had written to the Met after police officers demanded his name, address and date of birth when they stopped him under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act.

The photographer, who had been taking sunset photos, said a police officer told him he could have been on a reconnaissance operation ahead of a terrorist attack.

The drama, which took place outside Tate Modern on 25 November, led to widespread press coverage, including a front page splash in The Independent and follow-up investigations by other national newspapers and media outlets.

The high-profile incident also chimed with the experiences of other photographers, both amateur and professional, who have complained at their treatment by police and other officials in recent years – leading to a nationwide campaign to defend photographers’ rights.

Overs said that he met up with the Met’s DS Ian Coleman to discuss the matter after the force told him they were keen to ‘try and resolve the issue’.

Overs described the meeting as ‘affable’.

He told Amateur Photographer: ‘The two officers (from Southwark) have been appointed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) to investigate the details of what happened.

‘Our conversation seemed to acknowledge that the various announcements and [media] interviews with senior police officers had rather overtaken my original complaint.’

The photographer added: ‘The interview focused on what I would like to happen to the WPC and [P]CSO who stopped me – whether I would like any discipline/inteview/talk resolved locally by their seniors in Southwark or not.

‘As they [the officers] are both very young and had actually been polite in their dealings (however, misguided) I agreed to that. It’s the policy I’m complaining about and whoever was instructing/managing them.

‘I made a statement to that effect in the (stated) knowledge that the IPCC was making a wider investigation into all the recent harassment of photographers using Section 44.’

An IPCC spokeswoman confirmed that it is ‘supervising’ the Met’s ongoing investigation, meaning the watchdog will need to satisfy itself that the photographer’s complaint has been dealt with ‘appropriately’.

At the time of writing the spokeswoman was not able to confirm whether the IPCC is also dealing with other complaints lodged by photographers under Section 44.

The Met has yet to respond to our request for comment.

Police picPictures: Chris Cheesman


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