Manchester Police urged to 'obey law' on photographers

A freelance journalist has urged police in Oldham to start obeying the law as they stand accused of preventing a  photographer from doing his job – for the third time.

Freelance journalist and NUJ member Nigel Pivaro spoke out after the latest incident, in which Stuart Littleford says an officer pushed his camera away, and intimidated and abused him for over ten minutes last week. The officer then booked his car for obstruction and started checking his tyres and tax disc.
The incident happened on the afternoon of Monday, 16 January, in Oldham.

Pivaro said:’ What  has been happening in Oldham to Mr. Littleford, a bona fide professional news gatherer, is nothing short of victimisation and in clear breach of the law by the very people charged with upholding the law.
“If this was happening in Iran or China we would be rightly outraged. That it is happening here in 2012 is absolutely inexcusable.”
He added:”Recognition of press rights and the law by frontline officers in Oldham should be sorted by GMP’s senior management quickly.
“If this behaviour is allowed to continue it risks damaging the otherwise good press–police relations across the  Manchester force area .”

Littleford, editor of the Government and Public Sector Journal, has made two complaints to GMP’s Professional Practices Board and has referred the case to the Chartered Institute of Journalists.
He has also challenged Manchester chief constable Peter Fahy to try some ‘mystery shopping’ to see what his officers are up to.

He said: “I’d challenge the Chief Constable to come out with me in disguise and see how they treat press at the scene of an incident in the first few minutes! I think he would be in for a few surprises.”

Cleland Thom is a media law trainer and consultant

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