Home Office minister Vernon Coaker has agreed to meet photography rights campaigners, says Austin Mitchell the MP who is organising a delegation of photographers to meet the government.

Vernon Coaker is the minister responsible for policing, crime and security.

The move follows a year-long campaign to protect the rights of photographers taking pictures in public places and a spate of such incidents in recent weeks.

These include the case of a ?boat spotter? who was reportedly told by police that he could be ?bin Laden?s brother? when quizzed while taking photos in Cleveland.

Mitchell (pictured) told Amateur Photographer magazine that a date has yet to be arranged for the Home Office meeting but he hopes this will be soon.

The Labour MP said he will book a date with Coaker once he has contacted all the relevant parties. Amateur Photographer hopes to be part of the delegation.

Nationwide campaign

Spiralling reports of police confronting photographers ? both amateur and professional – has sparked nationwide coverage of the issue in the media over the past 12 months.

Mitchell launched a parliamentary petition on the matter which has so far attracted cross-party support from 245 MPs.

Last year, the National Union of Journalists? general secretary Jeremy Dear also met the Home Office minister – to discuss the rights of press photographers.

He told Coaker that police have used their powers to restrict photography in public places ‘inappropriately’.

The concern was one of several regarding ‘media freedom’ raised by the NUJ.

These included ‘obstruction of journalists in their work – in contravention of guidelines already agreed between news organisations and the authorities – as well as the routine surveillance of journalists by the police’.

Afterwards, the NUJ said the meeting included ?recognition that there had been inappropriate uses of the police’s power to restrict photography in public places and that more could be done to ensure that police officers are aware of the existing [press] guidelines?.

To read Austin Mitchell?s Early Day Motion visit the Parliament website.


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