Courtney Friday, of the Reading Chronicle, accused Thames Valley Police of trying to”dictate” to the press, claiming they prevented him trying to get an interview with the family at the scene.
Courtney says he was told to “show some respect” by an officer when he tried to approach the family concerned, before the cordon was erected in front of him.
He had attended the scene in the Woodley area of Reading on Monday afternoon, but the road where the incident took place was blocked by emergency service vehicles.
Courtney cut through an alleyway in a bid to access the family, before being challenged by the officer, who radioed for backup.
The cordon was then put in place to stop him form going further forward, but Courtney explained to the officer that he wanted to take some pictures and speak to the residents outside the front of the house.
He claims the officer said: “They’ve just had their house burned down mate, they don’t want to speak to you”, to which Courtney responded it wasn’t the officer’s job to decide who did and didn’t want to speak to him.
The policeman then agreed to speak to the family on his behalf, but was told they didn’t want to be interviewed.
In his complaint to the force, Courtney wrote: “The point is the officer had no right to deny me from approaching or speaking to the family on a public highway, and as far as I’m concerned I think my approach would have been much better than an officer saying there’s a journalist here but don’t worry I can tell them to go away (I don’t know exactly what he said, but I would assume it’s along those lines).
“The officer stayed with them for a further ten minutes or so, and I was unable to get through the cordon.
“Furthermore, when I asked for his badge number he was obstructive and told me to ‘read it’.”
Courtney also cited Association Of Chief Police Officers and Metropolitan Police guidelines which state that media should have freedom when photographing and speaking to parties at a crime or investigation scene.
He added: “I have the highest respect for the brave work that your officers do, and I want to maintain the relationship our newspaper has with Thames Valley Police.
“I simply want it relayed to the officers that they do not have the power to dictate the actions of the press.”
HTFP has requested a comment from Thames Valley Police on the issue.