Greater Manchester Police has today refused to explain why a photographer taking pictures in a public place was arrested to ?prevent a breach of the peace?.
The force said it is still investigating an incident on Monday which involved the arrest – and later ?de-arrest? – of Sean Wilton, a photographer for the Manchester Evening News (MEN).
Wilton was taking pictures of a fight outside Manchester Magistrates Court when he was reportedly bundled into a police car.
The 43-year-old photographer said that an officer told him not to take pictures.
?He didn?t seem to want to listen and told me that I was obstructing the police,? Wilton told his paper afterwards.
?I tried to explain I wasn?t obstructing and was just doing my job, but to no avail.
?When I tried to speak to him about the situation, he arrested me for breach of the peace.?
The newspaper said that other photographers were threatened with arrest if they refused to delete images they had taken.
The National Union of Journalists yesterday condemned the behaviour of police.
A spokeswoman said: ?Either police officers do not understand our rights and responsibilities or they sometimes choose to ignore them??
Amateur Photographer today challenged Greater Manchester Police to explain how taking pictures in a public place may be seen as a breach of the peace, but a spokesman refused to comment, referring us to an earlier press statement on the matter (see below).
In a statement, the MEN said the incident was evidence of a ?worrying phenomenon?.
The paper told its readers: ?Our photographer was later released without charge. But serious questions remain about the police?s attitude to professional journalists doing their job in bearing witness to a newsworthy event in a public place in the middle of Manchester.?
The court was hearing the case of two men accused of assaulting a man who appeared in the TV programme Big Fat Gypsy Weddings.
The MEN added: ?When we reach the stage that constables decide where we can and cannot point a camera in bringing you the news, we will be living in a police state.?
The police spokesman said that the force is looking into the entire incident that took place on Monday, not only the photographer?s arrest.
In a statement released earlier this week police said: ?A photographer was arrested to prevent a breach of the peace and on suspicion of obstructing a police officer.
?Officers brought the situation under control and the photographer was de-arrested and subsequently released.?
The news came as campaigners last night gathered in central London to mark the ongoing fight to defend the rights of photographers to take pictures in public places.
The event was organised by the photo rights group I?m a Photographer Not A Terrorist, to celebrate its continuing campaign.
Speaking at the event, architectural photographer Grant Smith (pictured below), one of the campaign organisers, said: ?We are still concerned about the harassment of photographers, especially photographers working in public places, taking pictures of private property.?
The event was held at the AOP Gallery in The City.
Last month Amateur Photographer took part in talks with Home Office officials on this issue.
The magazine has run an ongoing campaign on photography in public places since 2005.
Photographer Grant Smith speaking at the I’m a Photographer Not a Terrorist event at the AOP Gallery last night
Picture credit: Chris Cheesman