Comedian Mark Thomas joined more than 300 photographers outside New Scotland Yard in London today (16 February) to exercise his right to take a picture in a public place.
Amendments to the Counter Terrorism Act – which comes into force in the UK today - allow for the arrest and imprisonment of anyone who takes pictures of police officers, and some other public servants, “likely to be useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism”.
The NUJ fears that the law will be used to stop news photographers doing legitimate work.
"I've been stopped and detained
under the old counter terrorism laws and this takes things even further."
Marc Vallée, another freelance photographer, who helped organise today's event, said: "This turnout shows that if a press photgrapher is arrested under the new law it will be a big news story. Hopefully that will make the police think carefully."
said: "This is a fantastic turnout. We put down a challenge on day one."
The comedian, who often uses his articles and TV shows to highlight injustice and wrongdoing, suggested that an exhibition should be held of pictures of police officers.
NUJ vice-president Peter Murray said: “There is a threat of photographers being criminalised just for doing their jobs.
“Life is already hard enough for them. Photography budgets are being cut and so-called citizen journalists are being used instead of professionals.
“This is a further unnecessary threat to their livelihoods.”
NUJ members have organised a seminar called - 'I'm a photographer not a terrorist: know your rights' to be held on Thursday 26 February.
All professional press photographers welcome. The event will last from 6pm-8pm, at Jacobs Pro Lounge, 74, New Oxford Street, London, WC1A 1EU.
16 February 2009