Splash welcomes LA police probe into rogue paparazzi

By Dominic Ponsford

A British celebrity pictures agency has welcomed a police clampdown on rogue paparazzi working in Los Angeles.

The police action follows an incident where actress Lindsay Lohan
was involved in a car crash with a photographer said to have been
chasing her.

LA police have warned someone could be hurt or
killed unless photographers are curbed. Splash News, Fame Pictures,
Ramirez and X17 have been mentioned by police as part of a wideranging
investigation.

Splash co-owner Kevin Smith said: “I very much doubt we are under investigation.

We
have not been approached by the police or the district attorney. Also,
with the list of agencies named, we are the odd one out. All the other
agencies are hardcore paparazzi agencies. We are a bone fide news
agency. We do paparazzi pictures, certainly, but we are news-driven. We
are certainly not in the same league as the others named.”

He
added: “At the same time, we would welcome the police scrutiny. It is
about time. The street scene in Los Angeles is out of control and curbs
need to be put in place. The situation has deteriorated rapidly over
the past few years, with a certain cowboy mentality creeping in.

“Some of the characters taking pictures now are unsavoury to say the least.

One served time for attempted murder, saved from a longer jail term only because the man he shot in the head survived.

“A pap arrested for crashing into Lindsay Lohan two weeks ago already had a warrant out for his arrest on a narcotics charge.

“One
agency for a time was employing untrained men coming out of jail,
taking advantage of a government scheme where their salaries are
compensated.

A noble idea, but a recipe for disaster.

“There used to be some decorum on the streets. There was even a rapport between celebrities and photographers.

But that has eroded completely and convivial exchanges are non-existent.”

According
to Smith, the advent of digital cameras has led to a have-a-go attitude
where anyone thinks they can become a celebrity photographer.

Smith
said: “The art of a good paparazzi picture is stealth. Not to be seen,
shot from a discreet distance, not interfering with the subject of the
picture. That is something that has been lost on the newcomers.”

The London scene

PAPARAZZI STICK TO THE PCC CODE

The streets of London are said to be more crowded with celebrity
photographers than ever, but according to insiders, most still adhere
to the Press Complaints Commission code.

John Melhuish, news editor at Rex Features, said: “There are many
more photographers out there on the streets than there were. You can go
to a fairly minor club and find 30 photographers out there, where a few
years ago there might have been half a dozen.

“A lot of people
are working part-time – they go out in the evening with their digital
camera and find they can earn more doing that than they do with their
day job. There’s always a bit of niggling going on, but nothing too
nasty. It can be a bit of a bunfight.”

Another London-based
picture agency executive said: “Most people tend to do circuits of
their favourite haunts rather than chase people around London. As far
as publications are concerned, they don’t want to face a PCC complaint
over any photographs they have used.”

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