A man taking photos of a fish tank was stopped by a security guard who was supposed to be alert for u2018hostile reconnaissanceu2019 amid pre-Olympics terrorism fears.
John Harrington said he was with his family when a security official prevented him taking pictures of one of the aquariums inside the O2 Centre, a shopping and leisure complex in north-west London.
‘The security guard had a pop at me. He said it was against the law to take pictures in here,’ Harrington told Amateur Photographer (AP).
‘He was aggressive about it… I couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t as if I was a terrorist.’
The photography enthusiast – who keeps fish at home – was using a Nikon D300S DSLR, and a 24mm lens.
He said there were no signs warning against photography at the centre.
The guard told him: ‘If you do it again, you are out.’
Harrington was not using a flash, nor a tripod, when he was stopped on Saturday afternoon.
‘It’s the first time anything like this has happened and I’ve been living in London for 30 years,’ said Harrington who is originally from west Cork in Ireland.
‘They are intimidating all the wrong people,’ he told AP.
Jason King, manager of the O2 Centre on Finchley Road, NW3, admitted: ‘People should not be getting stopped for doing that [taking pictures of a fish tank].
‘If photos are for personal use, that’s fine.
‘If they are of the building’s infrastructure, we will stop photographers as part of our security procedures.
‘We have a duty to prevent hostile reconnaissance, particularly in the run-up to the Olympics.’
NEWS UPDATE: The O2 Centre has blamed the incident on a possible
case of mistaken identity. Management say three people were seen taking
photographs at the time. A cleaner contacted security after one was seen
taking pictures of the ‘atrium’ from an escalator, images that the
building’s security team would class as suspicious. It seems that the
guard, arriving late on the scene, then approached the wrong
photographer – targeting the person carrying the ‘bigger camera’,
according to O2 Centre manager Jason King. ‘It seems the guard assumed
it was the same person. It was an assumption he shouldn’t have made,’
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King, a keen photographer himself, said that security personnel have been briefed on the centre’s photographic policy.
He said there were three guards on duty at the time.
Though King insisted there has been no change in the rules ahead of London 2012, he said the Olympics are a ‘consideration’.
He plans to brief the centre’s security staff about the incident.
Harrington said he may lodge a complaint against the 02 Centre management.
The 02 Centre is owned by UK commercial property giant, Land Securities.
Click HERE for details of AP’s 2-in-1 Photographers’ Rights Lens Cloth, which will be given away free with the issue dated 2 June 2012, outlining your rights when taking photographs in public and private spaces