Editor angered by strip-search of photographer

By Sarah Lagan

Isle of Wight County Press editor Brian Dennis has written a letter
of protest to the police after one of his photographers was
strip-searched for drugs while covering an annual festival on the
island.

A police dog at the three-day “Bestival” had shown an interest in
Laura Holme’s camera bag. But instead of having her bag searched, Holme
said she was taken aside and made to walk with her arms out in front of
her to a tent, where she was asked to remove her clothes for a search.

Holme,
27, said the ordeal had reduced her to tears. She said she felt
humiliated and degraded and found it difficult to continue her
assignment.

In his letter, Dennis said he was not looking for
privileged treatment for his journalists. He explained he had spoken to
three readers who had been searched in the same way, one of whom
likened it to being assaulted.

Dennis said: “According to a
Hampshire Constabulary press release, there were 235 searches and 72
people were found to be in possession of illegal substances. It follows
then that 163 innocent people were searched, and I wonder what impact
that has on police relations with the public.”

Isle of Wight
Basic Command Unit Commander, Superintendent Stephanie Morgan, said:
“We had a robust policy to deal with anyone suspected of attempting to
take drugs into the festival and by using these methods, seized more
than £10,000 worth of Class A drugs. Most residents and festival goers
were Holme: says the police strip-search made her feel degraded
extremely supportive of our stance.”

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