When will they learn? The pap who tried to tip off his victims

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Emily Dugan talks to photographer Steve Back, who foresaw a Bob Quick-style scandal

Since Assistant Police Commissioner Bob Quick was caught stepping out of his car last week, urgent papers in hand, photographers have faced accusations of irresponsibility. Do these people not have consciences, asked the critics?

But the truth is a more complex. If the photographer who captured the blunder had had his way, Mr Quick would still have a job and the students might still be under observation.

Freelance photographer Steve Back, who also works as a magistrate, decided it would be irresponsible to release his picture of the whole, sensitive document. "My eyes aren't that brilliant and even I saw the content, so I made the decision not to do anything with it," he said. But once Getty Images released its partly obscured photo of the papers worldwide, he felt there was no point in keeping his back.

Far from being proud of the scoop, Mr Back is disappointed. For years, he has petitioned Downing Street to take better care to cover up confidential papers. "On at least half a dozen occasions, I've told the press office that everyone can read everything that ministers carry, because of the quality of lenses. I have gone out of my way to say: 'For God's sake, cover them up.'"

Mr Back has even held back a photo of a senior minister holding sensitive papers. "One day, I photographed Jack Straw carrying some documents which I didn't do anything about. I just didn't do anything with them; I mean, he's the Justice Secretary."

Not all snappers are so civic-minded. Thanks to modern digital technology and a highly competitive media marketplace, the clutched document marked "Secret" has become highly prized pap fodder. The Bob Quick story is not the first of its type, nor will it be the last...

Hazel Blears

Reality TV

A BBC pitch to make the Prime Minister "more popular than Alan Sugar" was inadvertently revealed when Hazel Blears was photographed carrying a printout of an email. The proposal was to make a reality TV show called 'Junior PM' which would be for budding politicians. Blears's notes suggested Mr Brown was going to discuss the matter with other Cabinet figures.

Caroline Flint

Housing crisis

Housing minister Caroline Flint was caught out as she walked to No 10 clutching papers which revealed the dismal state of the property market. Thanks to an enterprising photographer, the news was out before she had a chance to brief the Cabinet: the housing market was expected to plunge by up to 10 per cent. To make matters worse, the briefing also confessed: "We can't tell how bad it will get."

Nick Faldo

Team list

Last year's European Ryder Cup team captain attempted an audacious lie to get out of his own document crisis, when his handwritten team list was photographed ahead of his official announcement. Mr Faldo claimed it was simply lunch requests for his team mates. "It had sandwich requests for the guys, just making sure who wants the tuna, who wants the beef, who wants the ham," he said. But the tall tale didn't last long. "OK, I've been caught," he admitted just moments later.

George Bush

Toilet break

Trust George Bush to have the most puerile of document scandals. When the then leader of the free world was photographed writing a note to Condoleezza Rice during the 2005 World Summit, he was not consulting her on the finer points of Russian foreign policy. He was asking for a loo break. "I think I may need a bathroom break," he penned urgently. "Is this possible?"

Tony Blair

Gilligan briefing notes

Tony Blair was on his way to a tempestuous PM's Questions when his briefing notes were caught on camera. It was in 2003, when the furore over the "sexed-up" dossier was at its height. Green tags highlighted the key points of concern and the name of journalist Andrew Gilligan – who broke the story – could clearly be seen.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Recruitment Genius: Professional Sales Trainee - B2B

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: First things first - for the av...

Guru Careers: Creative Designer / Graphic Designer

Competitive: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Creative Designer / Graphic Design...

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - ECommerce

£35000 - £43000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers' in retail...

Day In a Page

Seifeddine Rezgui: What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?

Making of a killer

What motivated a shy student to kill 38 holidaymakers in Tunisia?
UK Heatwave: Temperatures on the tube are going to exceed the legal limit for transporting cattle

Just when you thought your commute couldn't get any worse...

Heatwave will see temperatures on the Tube exceed legal limit for transporting cattle
Exclusive - The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Swapping Bucharest for London

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Meet the man who swapped Romania for the UK in a bid to provide for his family, only to discover that the home he left behind wasn't quite what it seemed
Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Cheaper energy on the way, but it's not all sunshine and rainbows

Solar power will help bring down electricity prices over the next five years, according to a new report. But it’s cheap imports of ‘dirty power’ that will lower them the most
Katy Perry prevented from buying California convent for $14.5m after nuns sell to local businesswoman instead

No grace of God for Katy Perry as sisters act to stop her buying convent

Archdiocese sues nuns who turned down star’s $14.5m because they don’t approve of her
Ajmer: The ancient Indian metropolis chosen to be a 'smart city' where residents would just be happy to have power and running water

Residents just want water and power in a city chosen to be a ‘smart’ metropolis

The Indian Government has launched an ambitious plan to transform 100 of its crumbling cities
Michael Fassbender in 'Macbeth': The Scottish play on film, from Welles to Cheggers

Something wicked?

Films of Macbeth don’t always end well - just ask Orson Welles... and Keith Chegwin
10 best sun creams for body

10 best sun creams for body

Make sure you’re protected from head to toe in the heatwave
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon files

Milos Raonic has ability to get to the top but he must learn to handle pressure in big games
Women's World Cup 2015: How England's semi-final success could do wonders for both sexes

There is more than a shiny trophy to be won by England’s World Cup women

The success of the decidedly non-famous females wearing the Three Lions could do wonders for a ‘man’s game’ riddled with cynicism and greed
How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map