As reported on HTFP yesterday, Courtney Friday, of the Reading Chronicle, had a cordon physically erected in front of him by police to prevent him from accessing witnesses at the scene.
Courtney claimed one policeman told him to “show some respect” when he tried to approach the family whose house was on fire, and was further obstructed when he asked for the officer’s badge number.
After the incident, Courtney filed an official complaint which Thames Valley Police about his treatment.
He 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.
As a result, the force apologised to Courtney in a phone call yesterday morning.
Said Courtney: “I thank them for their appropriate and professional response to my complaint, and I look forward to a better relationship between journalists and police officers across Thames Valley.”
After reaching the scene of the fire in the Woodley area of Reading on Monday evening, Courtney realised the roads were blocked by emergency service vehicles and tried to cut through an alleyway nearby.
At this point he was challenged by the officer, who radioed for backup and a cordon was put in place in front of Courtney.
The officer then told him the family did not wish to speak to him, to which Courtney responded it wasn’t the policeman’s job to decided this.
Eventually, the officer agreed to ask the family on his behalf and returned to tell him they did not want to be interviewed.
In his complaint, Courtney wrote: “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.”
A Thames Valley Police spokeswoman confirmed Courtney had received an apology for any problems he’d had and said the force was investigating the incident.