Private security staff are once again under fire, over an apparent ignorance of the law, after guards reportedly banned pictures of the O2 Arena in London, captured from a public place.
Guardian reporter Peter Walker said he was videoing the O2 from a public road south of the arena when he was stopped and ordered to show the guards his footage.
The arena will serve as a venue for several sports events during this summer?s Games, including basketball and gymnastics.
Walker had been testing the approach of security staff to photographers in the run-up to the Olympics, after several photographers expressed fears of restrictions near key buildings.
Security staff told Walker: ?We?ve requested you to not do it because we don?t like it.?
Walker asked the guards what legal right they had to stop him. He said one of the guards replied: ?It?s under the terrorist law. We are an Olympic venue.?
O2 management later defended the guard?s actions, saying the venue has a policy of approaching people, and taking ?the appropriate course of action? against those seen filming or taking still images of the building?s ?infrastructure and access points?, even from public areas.
A spokesman told the newspaper: ?On the basis that [the reporter was] filming areas of the O2 that are not usually of interest to the public, our security staff?s approach and handling of the situation was entirely appropriate.?
Commenting on the incident, John Toner, freelance organiser at the National Union of Journalists, told the Guardian: ?I?m stunned, and what they [O2 management] say is utterly outrageous.?
Toner said he is seeking an urgent meeting with O2 managers.
In his article Walker added: ?The incident at the O2 was resolved after guards called police, who also asked to see the footage, citing the Terrorism Act.?
The O2 had yet to respond to a request for comment when approached by Amateur Photographer (AP) this morning (Tuesday).
After the incident, which occurred earlier this month, the Guardian contacted AP for the latest on the magazine?s ongoing campaign to defend photographers? rights.
AP’s newsdesk subsequently contributed to the Guardian article, which appears alongside the paper’s pre-Olympics coverage.
Late last year, the British Security Industry Association published photography guidance, telling AP that private security firm G4S ? whose staff will work at the Games ? had been sent the rules, warning against overzealous behaviour.
The guidance followed a campaign that saw AP involved in a series of discussions with police and the Home Office.
In 2009, an AP reader was stopped in a similar way, near the site of the Olympics stadium ? while it was still being built.
Dr Patrick Green said security guards prevented him taking pictures from a public road that leads to the Olympic site.
‘One guard also threatened to call more security who he said “would come with dogs”,’ said Dr Green who was trying out a new Olympus E-30 DSLR camera.
A spokesperson for the Olympic Delivery Authority said at the time: ‘Filming and photography of the site from public highways and areas around the Olympic Park is permitted. However, our security guard team reserve the right to talk to anyone they believe may be taking photos or footage of any security operations. This is part of the ODA’s responsibility to ensure the safety and security of the Olympic Park.’
Last year, though seemingly not connected to the Olympics, a student was stopped by police under Section 43 of the Terrorism Act, in nearby Stratford, while taking pictures of ‘birds’.
To read the Guardian article click HERE