Photographers in London election row

May 6, 2008

Photographers were allegedly banned from taking pictures at two London by-elections and have accused the council of behaving like an ?old Soviet republic?.

Photographers at the East London Advertiser claim they were stopped from photographing counts amid fears that they would take the ?wrong kind of pictures?, according to reports.

?The Town Hall vetoed a request from the East London Advertiser to take wideangle shots of the count for the by-elections for Bethnal Green?s Weavers ward and Millwall ward on the Isle of Dogs which were being carried out in the Excel Centre in neighbouring Newham,? states the newspaper?s website.

The paper claims it was told that ?the size of the room is the problem ? we can?t have too many people in here?.

It believes that the health and safety issue was a ?smokescreen? and claims that the council also rejected requests for photographers to take turns in the room.

The newspaper accused the council of behaving like an ?old Soviet republic?, according to a report in journalists’ trade publication Press Gazette.

Tower Hamlets Council told Amateur Photographer that it had given the paper plenty of advance warning about the ban.

In a statement it said that photographers were able to access the count room for the announcement of the election result and that a ?pool photographer? was able to supply images of the count in progress.

It added: ?In order to effectively manage the count and to minimise disruption or disturbance to count staff, press photographers were not able to access the room before the announcement.?

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