Photographer’s terror stop sparks watchdog response
December 10, 2010
A photographer stopped by anti-terror police while covering a wedding reception two years ago has received a response to a complaint she lodged with the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Jess Hurd, a freelance, had been shooting video footage of guests leaving a wedding reception when she was stopped outside the Ramada Hotel in Docklands at 5.10pm on 10 December 2008.
Prior to that she had been recording still images using her Canon EOS 1D Mark II digital SLR.
Police suspected she could have been involved in some type of hostile reconnaissance in an area which is close to Canary Wharf.
Police allegedly seized her camera to view the images she had taken, despite her protests that she was an accredited journalist.
The photographer told the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) that she had been detained for more than 45 minutes by officers who told her they ‘can do anything under the Terrorism Act’.
Hurd (pictured) said the IPCC has now acknowledged that, in relation to the suspension of the use of Section 44 stop-and-search, that ?it is cases such as this that have helped in bringing about such changes?.
The IPCC, which has yet to respond to our request for official comment, added: ?Arguably with the assistance of hindsight the officer could have handled this incident differently, from a public confidence and satisfaction perspective?.
Hurd’s solicitor Chez Cotton said: ‘It is critical that the police are not allowed to use serious counter-terrorism measures as a general stop-and-search provision as has happened in my client’s case and in many other cases involving NUJ members and amateur photographers.
‘The use, or threatened use of, terrorism powers against journalists has had a chilling effect on their ability to report freely and without fear of arrest.
‘The current review of key counter terrorism and security measures must be used to ensure any powers given to the police cannot be misused in an arbitrary and discriminatory way, otherwise such powers will not enjoy the support or confidence of the public.’
NUJ legal officer Roy Mincoff said: ‘We welcome the IPCC’s findings in Jess Hurd’s favour. These events should never have taken place in the first instance.
‘The role of journalists, including photographers, as the public watchdog, must be respected.’
Five years ago an innocent photo enthusiast who was on a mission to take pictures for a camera club competition inadvertently sparked a security alert outside Canary Wharf.
Amateur photographer Adrian Stretton became the latest in a growing number of innocent photographers to be stopped and quizzed by police while taking pictures near ‘landmark’ sites in London amid terrorism fears.