A veteran weekly newspaper photographer was barred from taking pictures in a village hall without calling a Government agency’s press office first.
Derek Martin, who works for the Chichester Observer, said Highways England’s decision not to allow him to photograph a public exhibition held in the village of Lavant about proposed improvements to the A27 Chichester bypass was the first such occurrence in his 36-year career.
Arrving at the exhibition at Lavant Memorial Hall last Tuesday, Derek was told he could not take photographs without first contacting the agency’s press office.
As a result, he returned to the office with only photos of the outside of the village hall, pictured below.
Said Derek: “On arrival I immediately spoke to the gentleman sat behind the desk just inside. I explained that I had been sent by the Chichester Observer to take photos. I was asked to wait while he got someone to talk to me.
“A woman representing Highways England then said I would not be allowed to take photos without first going through their media team. So I had to leave with only pictures of the hall from outside.”
He added: “Just inside, ‘Highways England, welcome’ can be seen on a board. I was not welcome – a first at such an event in 36 years as a local press photographer.”
A Highways England spokesperson said: “We are committed to running a full and open consultation on options for improving the A27 at Chichester. Any suggestion that a photographer from the Chichester Observer was ‘banned’ from our event is incorrect and misleading.
“Our event staff asked the photographer to contact the press office, and invited him into the event in a private capacity in the meantime.
“We do ask any media outlet attending any of our events to ring our press office – we take this approach with the dozens of successful events we host every year across the country. Media, photographers and members of the public are always very welcome.”