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.

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
peopleFilm star says he is 'not interested in making money anymore'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites those Star Wars rumours
Sport
footballAccording to revelations from Sergio Aguero's new biography
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Life and Style
Meow! ... Again, Kim Kardashian goes for a sexy Halloween costume, wrapping her body with a latex catsuit and high heeled knee boots
fashionFrom Heidi Klum to Kim Kardashian
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling is releasing a new Harry Potter story about Dolores Umbridge
booksChristmas comes early for wizard fans
Arts and Entertainment
filmsOculus Rift offers breathtakingly realistic simulation of zero gravity
Life and Style
tech

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

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker