Journalists fear police bid to black out green protesters coverage

Journalists, photographers and cameramen believe that the police have adopted aggressive tactics with members of the media to stop them covering environmental protests.

A series of arrests of cameramen and photographers has prevented images of demonstrators being arrested getting to newspapers and broadcasters this year. The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) believes that the practice is on the increase even though most cases are thrown out of court.

Last week a cameraman from the production company Undercurrent was arrested with a group of protesters who had occupied the offices of Rank Leisure to protest at the company's plans to build an Oasis holiday centre in the Lyminge Forest in Kent.

"First they tried to arrest me on suspicion of burglary," Roddy Mansfield said last week. "When I showed them my NUJ card they took it off me and asked me to quote my PIN number. Because I could only quote two of the numbers while being held by two burly officers they then arrested me on suspicion of forging the press card.

"The plan was to sell the footage of these hyped-up tactical support group officers coming through the windows to arrest these women protesters. But they seized my tape as evidence."

Undercurrent Productions, which makes programmes for Channel 4, has conducted its own survey of cameramen and journalists who cover protests and believes that 15 have been arrested this year in the course of doing their job.

Most notorious was the case of Nick Cobbing, the only photographer to get into the trees at the Manchester Airport protest site. The rest of the press was kept in a pen close to the site and could not get photographs.

Mr Cobbing got agreement from the climbers hired by the sheriff's department to stay in the trees and take photographs. When they asked him to come down with them he came down.

But once he was back on the ground he was arrested by the police for obstructing the sheriff's officers.

"They took my cameras and film and held me in a van at the site for two hours. Then they drove me to Salford police station where I was held for another 12 hours."

By the time he was bailed - on condition that he did not return to the site and that he stayed in his London home every night - no newspapers could use his pictures of the arrests and so none appeared.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that there was no policy to stop media coverage of protests. "But anyone who puts pen to paper or takes a photograph these days claims to be a journalist. It is up to the officer at the time to arrest whoever they think is breaking the law, it wouldn't matter whether they were a journalist or even an MP."

Tim Gopsill, of the NUJ, believes that the new kinds of protest, whether they be against new roads or treatment of veal calves, have brought new tactics from the police. "For a policeman to arrest a journalist while he is doing his job can only mean his intention is to stop the protest being reported," he said. "The increased arrests we are seeing could be attributable to the changed nature of protests we see. People aren't marching in the streets, they are trying to obstruct the things they oppose."

The NUJ has won sizeable compensation from the police for lost earnings by photographers who have been unable to sell their pictures because they have been arrested.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
Sport
footballLive! Chelsea vs West Ham kicked off 10 Boxing Day matches, with Arsenal vs QPR closing the action
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
football
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all