Journalists arrested after covering demo

claim they were held by the police for six hours

Armstrong, left, and Moore

Freelance photographer Alex Moore and documentary film-maker Franny Armstrong were arrested and held by police for six hours after covering a Greenpeace demonstration at petrol stations in the Southampton area.

They were released on bail until 7 May, when they could face charges of aggravated trespass, suspicion of theft and suspicion of criminal damage.

Moore claimed that despite showing the police her NUJ card, she was being treated as a demonstrator. She is outraged that while being held in cells at Lyndhurst police station, four of her films were removed from her equipment and have not been returned. Notes she had taken of a briefing meeting the night before the demo were also seized.

The pair were arrested when they returned to one of the garages to retrieve Armstrong’s lost mobile phone and were taken to the police station in a van. Greenpeace had commissioned them to photograph and film the demonstrators.

Moore, who had been on the road since 5.30am, arrived at the police station around 1.30pm and was not released until just after 7.30pm. She said: “I accepted the duty solicitor and on his advice gave a ‘no comment’ interview. I also made a brief statement saying I was a self-employed freelance photographer and that was the only capacity in which I was at the demo. I also said the police had taken four exposed films without my permission.

“I was very surprised at what happened. I had never been involved with the law before. I think it was an outrage that they took my films.”

Armstrong said she was prevented from making a phone call during her detention and claimed the arresting officers told her they would make a call on her behalf “later, if we’re not too busy”. It was not until 6.30pm that she received a call from the duty solicitor.

Both women have taken the matter up with the NUJ.

A union spokesman said it would back them “all the way” should they wish to pursue a complaint.

Armstrong is the founder of Spanner films and her documentaries include McLibel, the story of the McDonald’s food chain lawsuit against anti-globalisation campaigners Helen Steel and Dave Morris.

By Jean Morgan and Wale Azeez

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