Photographer to bill boys' rugby team after pic ban

Harrison: lost £300 in earnings

Freelance photographer Jim Harrison is taking legal advice and is to bill an under-13 rugby team for lost earnings after he was stopped from taking match photographs for the Melton Times.

Press Gazette has reported a number of instances where the Data Protection Act and fear of paedophiles have prompted schools and sports clubs to ban photographs of children appearing in newspapers.

Harrison became the latest victim of this overreaction when he was commissioned by the weekly Times to photograph the under-13 match between Melton Mowbray and the Leicester Vipers.

He had been asked to take a team picture and shots of the match action. This would have earned him about £300 in fees from the newspaper and money from the sale of pictures to the boys’ parents.

He had photographed the team, he told Press Gazette, and had begun taking match pictures when the Vipers’ coach shouted to him to stop. When he asked why, Harrison was told he had not been given permission.

The coach forbade him from continuing, citing “the Child Protection Act”.

“A freelance is paid on results,” said an angry Harrison. “I didn’t get the results, so I didn’t get paid. I am going to send an invoice to the Vipers for £300. I am going to force the issue.”

Harrison said he would consult a solicitor and added: “The way I see it, all photographers, or anyone with a camera around their neck, particularly men, are being classed as paedophiles. It seems like a blanket accusation. I think it’s time someone tested this in court. I am determined to take this to the limit.”

Les Vernon, chairman of the Leicester Vipers, backed his coach, saying Harrison had not had permission to take pictures. “It is courteous to ask for permission, especially with this child protection thing flying around. As far as I am aware, nobody had informed our club or our coaches that somebody would be there taking photographs. If we had been informed, there wouldn’t be a problem.

“We have to be very wary with juveniles because some of them come from dysfunctional families. Some fathers do not know where they are or some mothers do not know where they are and suddenly when their photograph appears in the paper, everybody knows where they are.”

The Rugby Football Union is working on guidelines for clubs on the issue.

By Jean Morgan

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