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MEN photographer arrested for taking pictures outside court

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.

Said Bethan: “Our photographers do a fine job, often in difficult circumstances and always abiding by the codes of conduct applying to our industry.

“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.”


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  • June 14, 2011 at 10:24 am

    ‘De-arrested’… seriously !
    This story appears to show GMP violating freedom of the press and aims of the campaign for plain English…

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  • June 14, 2011 at 10:33 am

    It would of immense interest to all, if the term “de-arrested” were explained both in terms of the concept and how it fits with British jurisprudence. It sounds to me that the GMP are trying to have it both ways. They remove the news representative from the scene, but afterwards can claim that nothing happened, since he was “de-arrested”. How convenient!

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  • June 14, 2011 at 11:01 am

    The police seem to have transmogrified into a group of mobsters, who feel themselves to be above the law.

    In Greater Manchester, Senior Police Officers deny the right of knowledge of their own complaints system, which is enshrined within their own legal constitution.

    They also arrest people for the most curious reasons.

    Michael Parnell has been harassed and arrested by GMP Officers in Stockport on so many occasions, that I lost count when the harrassment and arrests soared well above the 100 mark. His crime? Objecting peaceably, outside Stockport Town Hall, about the severe letting down of his Stockport family over many many years, by Public Officials in Stockport.

    That is what GM Police is prepared to do to an innocent citizen, who exercises his democratic right of protest in his own democratic (ho-ho) country.

    In South Yorkshire they refuse – for years – to investigate well documented, provable murders. (put ralphwinstanleyofwath into google and read the proof for yourself)

    In Cheshire they state that if a murder was committed in another area, it is not their responsibility to arrest the killer,when that killer is known to have entered their police area.

    In other areas, the disabled and fearful can raise – with their local police force – formal complaints about thuggish behaviour towards them, until the cows come home. The only way to make any one take such complaints seriously is to set your family alight.. which is what recently happened to one poor woman and her daughter. No investigation after so tragic an event can possibly remove the fear and the harm which led them to so terrible a death.

    And in the case of Tony Martin, having reported fear, harrassment and robbery, over a long period, he eventually shot the burglars. His Police Force then acted, against him. (Aah, wonderful! Policing in the 21st Century)

    It might be an interesting exercise for the public to enquire into the reasons why we pay the police, and what results we might expect from them.

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  • June 14, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    Old Bill, clueless again. They ought to be reminded that we pay their wages, they don’t pay ours!

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  • June 14, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Can I suggest that police officers responsible for such ridiculous knee-jerk reactions should be de-employed.

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  • June 14, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    I’m guessing the cops in question didn’t consider the fact that perhaps the photographs might have been useful as “evidence” against those allegedly involved in the brawl.
    I’d say it would be much more reliable than the recollections of those busy trying to separate the group and make the arrests.
    Just a thought…….

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  • June 14, 2011 at 6:49 pm

    I wasn’t there and didn’t see what happened. But from my time with Channel M/MEN Media, I recall Sean and Steve and I remember them as professionals who know their job. Whether the same can be said for some of GMP’s finest is another matter. I wonder if the officers involved have read the letter sent by Chief Constable Andy Trotter, chairman of the Association Of Chief Police Officers’ Media Advisory Group, to all Chief Constables in September 2010, (HTFP link, in which he said:
    “There are no powers prohibiting the taking of photographs, film or digital images in a public place. Therefore members of the public and press should not be prevented from doing so.
    “We need to cooperate with the media and amateur photographers. They play a vital role as their images help us identify criminals.
    “We must acknowledge that citizen journalism is a feature of modern life and police officers are now photographed and filmed more than ever.
    “Unnecessarily restricting photography, whether for the casual tourist or professional, is unacceptable and it undermines public confidence in the police service. Once an image has been recorded, the police have no power to delete or confiscate it without a court order.”
    The whole saga is utterly depressing and if the facts are as stated above, Steve and Sean should do their best to sue GMP for damages in connection with their wrongful arrest. That might concentrate minds in the training suite at GMP HQ.
    If the two photographers do take action, they might want to think about checking the location of public/private CCTV cameras in the area where it all kicked off, and seeking access to any footage. It may show who did what, and when. Also, Manchester City Council has a CCTV control suite in the city centre which monitors a huge number of cameras – it is highly likely that the event was captured on their cameras.
    One final point, for Digger – the media’s role does not include functioning as evidence gatherers for the police. Police wanting access to any material gathered by the media must seek a court order and they are required to have bloody good reasons for doing so before one ever granted, thank heavens.

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  • June 15, 2011 at 10:16 am

    Dohhh…there goes the proof-reading contract…Only Sean was arrested…OK, comments remain as stated otherwise.

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  • June 17, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    You can’t de-arrest or unarrest someone… they aren’t even real words either. Once arrested you stay arrested and must be detained until trial unless bonded out. This is a case of false arrest.

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  • June 17, 2011 at 4:06 pm

    I hope the MEN pursue this matter relentlessly. The police should not get away with the suppression of people’s rights like this.

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