These events occured just a month after Nottinghamshire Chief Constable had agreed a set of "guidelines for police and media at incidents". Lodge says that as these events progressed, police officers simply ignored them. Ironically, Mr Lodge is one of Nottingham’s NUJ committee members who helped initiate the guidelines so authorities are more aware of the media's rights and responsibilities. Earlier, NUJ Nottingham Branch Secretary, Kevin Stanley, said: "Cases like these raise important questions about the right for photographers to carry out their duties in a public place. We will continue argue vigorously that Alan has done nothing wrong and should not have been arrested." Since the photographers arrest, the NUJ says the code of conduct for police is meaningless if it is ignored by frontline officers."Police guidelines on how to handle the media are no good on paper if officers break them out on the streets," said Jeremy Dear, general secretary."This case has enormous repercussions and is vital for the exercise of press freedom. Alan had a perfect right to photograph in a public place a matter of clear public interest. If the court takes away that right then all of us will suffer as it will have a chilling effect on the exercise of press freedom."
Indymedia photographer arrested by armed officers
Mr. Lodge in court today
well, I don't know if, I'm happy, sad, coming or going really!!
Just got in from Nottingham Magistrates Courts, again, and the case is
adjourned ..... again!
Today was the first 'trial date' though. I have had a number of previous appearances for the pre-trial review stage. But since being charged with 'obstruction of a constable', we have been trying to get access to the memory card from my camera, after it was seized back in March 2006. Lawyers have been asking for the Crown Prosecution Service [CPS] to make the content available for inspection by those concerned in my defence. They have not.
Thus my barrister, supporters, General Secretary and Freelance Organiser from the NUJ, people from other NUJ branches, my Branch Chair from Nottingham NUJ, Channel4 camera crew, 6 police officers in their No1 uniforms and assorted others arrived at court this morning, all expecting the case to continue.
However, as the memory card, contain useful information / data, beyond the mere photographs, that would help me establish much of my evidence. It is essential to me being able to substantiate what I say in my statement of events. I would need this information, in the absence of other independent witnesses, to receive a fair trial.
I guess the CPS would know this, but still was not made available in advance of today's proceedings. After some deliberations, the magistrate accepted that fact. Thus, we all return here again next year!
Pete Jenkins Vice Chair of the NUJ's Photographers Sub Committee said after the case had been adjourned today:
"Are photographers allowed to take photographs of Policemen going about their duty? We still don't know. The case of Alan Lodge the Nottingham Photographer allegedly wilfully obstructing a policeman purely by taking photographs has been postponed again to the 5th March 2007, more than 50 weeks after the original arrest took place.
The CPS was instructed to endure that the defence had access to the digital data card and the information it contained with twenty-one days, and were admonished by the magistrates for not having done so sooner."
I am bailed to return to Nottingham Magistrates Court at 9.45am on 5th March 2007. That's 2 weeks shy of a whole year after my arrest [18th March 2006].
Incidentally, the nice man from Channel4 said that he was aware of so many cases resulting in such a waste of everyone's time, that they are doing a program shortly, on a Public Accounts Committee report on the waste of time, recourses etc that the CPS appear to be costing the taxpayer, in this administration of justice. Apparently I help them with this case in illustrating these facts. Ho Hum....!
I would like to add my thanks and appreciation to all those folks, who have stood by me in this process. It's not nice to be told you are suspected of committing crime for simply taking photographs, in a public place, in Britain, and such a thought, needs to be stood up to.
very many thanks
Alan Lodge [Tash]
Notts IMC person
Group Photo: Pam Morton Assistant Freelance Organiser (National Union Journalists), John Toner Freelance Organiser (NUJ), Stalingrad O’Neil secretary Birmingham Branch, Diana Peasey Branch Chairwoman Nottingham NUJ, Jeremy Dear General Secretary National Union of Journalists, Alan Lodge photographer aka the Nottingham one (defendant), a Birmingham branch member of the NUJ outside Nottingham Magistrates Court
Notts Police Press Guidelines [Collected Links]
Collected links about it all:
Photographer is arrested taking pictures of police, Press Gazette
Thursday, 6 April 2006
Met sets new press guidelines, British Journal of Photography
5 April 2006
Press V the police: case adjourned, British Journal of Photography
10 May 2006
Defend the Nottingham One! NUJ Freelance
NUJ backs photographer in press freedom case, National Union of Journalists
Journalists and police draw up new crime scene guidelines, Hold the Front Page
My Terrorism Act, Guardian [Friday April 28, 2006]
NUJ wants freelance cleared of criminal charges, FreelanceUK
Date set for photographer police ‘obstruction’ trial, National Union of Journalists
Photographer faces trial for snapping police, Press Gazette
Trial set for Nottingham photographer, EP-UK
Defend the Nottingham One (again)
Photographer's obstruction trial adjourned until March, Press Gazette
CPS ordered to hand over photographs as Lodge trial adjourned, EP-UK
This is what the guidance was supposed to cover .....
NOTTINGHAMSHIRE POLICE :: GUIDELINES FOR THE POLICE AND MEDIA AT INCIDENTS
1. The media has a legitimate role to play in informing the public and they will attend the scene of incidents. The presence of a photographer or reporter at an incident does not of itself constitute any unlawful obstruction or interference.
2. Journalists need to collect information about an incident as quickly as possible. Some of this information may seem irrelevant, unimportant or improper to an officer. However, as long as the journalist does not break the law, or interfere with an investigation, or cross a cordon, the police officer should not impede the reporter. Journalists who break the law will be dealt with in the same manner as any other offender.
3. A crime scene remains closed to the media whilst evidence is being gathered and detailed forensic examinations take place. The reasons for denial of access should be explained to the journalist and access granted as soon as possible with permission from the Senior Investigating Officer.
4. Journalists have the right to photograph and report events that occur on public property. The police may invite journalists on to private property where an event of public interest has occurred and they have the permission of the owner. They should enter peacefully and not cause any physical damage or attempt to alter any details for photographic purposes. The rights of an owner of private property should be respected and may lead to journalists being asked to leave. If the owner of the property does not give permission then any attempt to gain access would be trespass.
5. Any journalist should be able to show relevant media identification if asked. At the scene of an incident this identification should be visible at all times.
6. Police officers should not restrict journalists from taking pictures or asking questions of other parties, even though the officer may disagree with the journalist's purpose. It is not a police officer's role to be the arbiter of good taste and decency. It is an editor's role to decide what to use.
7. Police officers do not have the authority to prevent a person taking a photograph or to confiscate cameras or film, and such conduct could result in criminal, civil or disciplinary action.
8. In the event of a distressed or bereaved individual making a specific request for the media to leave them in peace the officer should pass this information on to the journalist. However, this is advice on which journalists and their editors must base their own decisions. If the situation becomes an identifiable Breach of the Peace then journalists, as any other citizen, have a duty to disperse if asked to do so.
9. Journalists should not park their vehicles in a way that will obstruct other traffic or hamper emergency vehicles or officers carrying out their lawful duty.
These guidelines have been sanctioned by Chief Constable Steve Green and the National Union of Journalists.
Alan Lodge [Tash]