A Manchester Evening News photographer has been arrested for taking pictures of a fight that started outside a court.
Sean Wilton was taking pictures of the brawl that broke out between two groups of men outside Manchester Magistrates’ Court following a hearing into an alleged assault on Channel Four’s Big Fat Gypsy Weddings star Paddy Doherty.
Police arrested six people and then arrested the 43-year-old photograper for breach of the peace before bundling him into the back of a police van.
Fellow MEN photographer Steve Allen, 53, was also threatened with arrest. Officers had told the two photographers not to take pictures of suspects’ faces.
Said Sean: “I explained that I understood but he didn’t seem to want to listen and told me that I was obstructing the police.
“I tried to explain that I wasn’t obstructing and was complying with his request but to no avail.
“When I tried to speak him about the situation he arrested me for breach of the peace.
“As professional photographers we do try to conduct ourselves as professionally as possible.”
Added Steve: ”We were trying to take pictures of the scene as it unfolded in front of us in a public place.
“We weren’t obstructing them at in any way shape or form – they were obstructing us.
“They threatened to confiscate our camera gear on more than one occasion.
“I think they were well over the top when we were just doing our jobs.”
MEN editor Maria McGeoghan said she is still waiting for a full explanation from Greater Manchester Police about what happened.
She told HTFP: “I find it worrying that rules surrounding taking pictures in a public place seem to be misunderstood.
“We are the eyes and ears of the people of Greater Manchester and we will stand up for that right always.”
Deputy MoC for the MEN Media NUJ chapel Bethan Dorsett said that for photographers to be treated in such a way was completely unacceptable and very worrying.
“Either police officers do not understand our rights and responsibilities or they sometimes choose to ignore them – either is disturbing and suggests some education would be useful.”
A spokesman for Greater Manchester Police said: “A photographer was arrested to prevent a breach of the peace and on suspicion of obstructing a police officer.
“Officers brought the situation under control and the photographer was de-arrested and subsequently released.”