Photographer accused of taking pictures for terrorists at wedding
15 December 2008
A photographer documenting the persecution of Irish travellers in the UK was herself subjected to police intimidation on UN Human Rights Day, 10 December.
The NUJ has condemned the abuse of the police's stop and search powers after they forcibly took photograher Jess Hurd's camera from her and detained her for 45 minutes under section 44 of the Terrorism Act. Jess Hurd was covering a traveller wedding in London Docklands, part of a long term documentary project on the persecution of travellers.
Whilst clearly photographing the wedding, the pictures of which appeared in Saturday's Guardian newspaper, Jess was detained under section 44 on the grounds she could be carrying out hostile reconnaissance for a terrorist assault.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said:
"This is yet another absurd misuse of the section 44 powers, which are designed to allow the police to detain those actively involved in carrying out a terrorist activity, not to stop press photographers carrying out their legitimate business.
"Despite the government's warm words about the right to photograph in public and new Home Office guidelines, it appears the routine abuse of these powers goes on.
"How ironic that those documenting persecution and intimidation on UN Human Rights Day should be subject to such abuse and intimidation."