AddThis SmartLayers

Reporter scores photo victory during ‘bizarre’ Boris Johnson visit to patch

A regional journalist landed a photograph with Boris Johnson during a “bizarre” encounter with the PM – despite his press officer insisting it would not be possible.

Mr Johnson also shouted what appeared to be words of praise for “Kent journalism” when he met reporters during a visit to the county.

Kent Online digital optimisation editor Oliver Kemp was among the journalists present during a visit by the PM to a vaccination centre in Ramsgate last week.

In a first-person piece about his experience, Oliver revealed he was initially told by a press officer he would not be allowed to take a photo of the PM interacting with staff at the centre.

Oliver Kemp, right, with Boris Johnson

Oliver Kemp, right, with Boris Johnson

The assembled journalists were instead kept in a room for half an hour before being ushered to a different area for an allotted five-minute pooled interview.

Wrote Oliver: “There was an intense air of stage management about the entire experience.

“Instead of allowing reporters to see Mr Johnson interacting with people – surely the reason why these ‘events’ are organised in the first place – I had to take it on face value from a member of his team that he was indeed interacting with the public.”

“But before Mr Johnson was rushed out the open door and back to Downing Street, we asked one last time if we could get a photo. ‘Of course!’ he exclaimed, then asked if we wanted a photo with him too. Kind of like a selfie, I suppose.

“Standing in a line as a member of his staff took the pictures, Mr Johnson put his hands in the air and shouted ‘Kent journalism!’, before mumbling something I couldn’t quite catch through his face mask.

“He thanked us and was gone 30 seconds later.

“It is understandable in many ways that these events would be meticulously managed – let us not forget the interviewee in question holds one of the most important jobs in the world.

“But it makes one wonder whether the intense stage management, the inability to take photos and the swiftness of the interview comes off the back of a series of embarrassing and difficult moments for the Prime Minister.”

Speaking to HTFP, Oliver described the encounter as a “pretty bizarre experience”.

He said: “When you’re invited to a press event by the PM’s comms team you expect some level of access, no matter how paltry.

“But being told we weren’t even able to get a few photographs of him doing meet and greets before a rushed five-minute interview made it all seem a little pointless.

“Frustratingly enough they allowed a major broadcaster to follow him around and pool the footage to other broadcasters, but no such invitation was extended to us.”

HTFP has approached Downing Street for a comment on the issues raised by Oliver.