Innocent photographer who was locked in cell wins £5,000 and a second police apology

January 7, 2010

AP Rights WatchA news photographer who was arrested and locked in a cell after trying to take pictures from behind a police cordon has won more than £5,000 in an out-of-court settlement, plus a second apology.

Andrew Handley from Milton Keynes had been following police guidelines when he was attempting to document the scene of a car accident at Stony Stratford in Milton Keynes, Buckinghamshire in 2006.

The photographer, who was working for MKNews, was handcuffed and detained for eight hours at the local police station where his DNA and fingerprints were recorded.

In a statement sent to Amateur Photographer earlier this week, a Thames Valley Police spokesman said: ‘Mr Handley was arrested on Tuesday 12 September 2006 on suspicion of obstructing an officer in the course of duty. He was subsequently given a simple caution.

‘Following this, Mr Handley decided to pursue a claim for compensation against the force for unlawful imprisonment and assault. This claim was settled out of court in November 2009.’

The statement added: ‘We have issued a full apology to Mr Handley and have rescinded his caution. His fingerprints and DNA records have also been removed from the database.

‘We would again like to take this opportunity to apologise to Mr Handley for any distress this incident has caused him.’

Handley told his union, the National Union of Journalists (NUJ): ‘This is not the first time a police officer has told me to stop taking pictures. I explained that I was entitled to do my job and assumed I would be allowed to continue. Instead I found myself with my hands cuffed behind my back and in a police cell.

‘As the hours ticked past I started to get more and more worried. I thought it would all be cleared up in a matter of minutes.

‘It was a great relief that I’ve been cleared. I was concerned that I’d have a criminal record and a caution hanging over my head when I knew perfectly well that I hadn’t broken the law.’

The NUJ’s Legal Officer Roy Mincoff said: ‘We will be monitoring the way in which our agreed guidelines, on how the police should deal with the media, are enforced and will continue to raise these issues with senior officers, government ministers and members of parliament.’


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