Charges dropped against Greenpeace freelances

Two freelance journalists arrested and detained for six hours by police while filming a Greenpeace anti-Esso demonstration near Southampton have had proceedings against them dropped.

Videojournalist Franny Armstrong and photographer Alex Moore, both commissioned by Greenpeace to film the demonstrations, were arrested on 2 March for aggravated trespass, suspicion of theft and suspicion of criminal damage, after activists broke into petrol stations during the protests.

Armstrong and Moore were detained at Lyndhurst police station for six hours, barred from making phone calls and prevented from making contact with solicitors until five hours into their arrest.

They were eventually released on bail until 7 May, when a decision would be made by police on whether or not to bring charges.

However, both have received letters from the police stating that charges would not be brought “in this case”, but police have refused to return the confiscated footage of the protests gathered by Armstrong and Moore, which they insisted would be used “as evidence” against protesters.

“I have basically had to write off that job,” Moore told Press Gazette.

“But I am definitely relieved. It has been a good lesson learned.”

Armstrong said she had “belief all along” that the police would not pursue a case against her. Armstrong, founder of Spanner Films, was at the San Francisco Film Festival with her latest documentary Drowned Out when notice of the dropped proceedings arrived. The film has just won second prize for best documentary at the festival.

By Wale Azeez and Jean Morgan

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