Cobbing receives police payout

Cobbing:arrested and held in cell

Photographer Nick Cobbing has waited three years to win compensation from the police for arresting him and holding him in a cell for more than five hours while he was covering an animal rights demonstration.

He will receive around £6,000 plus costs from Thames Valley Police for wrongful arrest, but what pleases the freelance more is the admission of liability and that he will get a letter of apology from the Chief Constable.

Cobbing was one of three journalists – the others were Roddy Mansfield, a freelance broadcast journalist for independent TV company Undercurrents, and Allesandro Nani of FI-Crea Florence – who are to be compensated after the arrest at Hillgrove cat farm near Oxford in 1998.

Cobbing told Press Gazette: "I hope that cases like these make the police more considerate and aware of the requirements of journalists in public order situations. It’s hard enough doing that job without being worried about being held in custody and having your film taken."

Cobbing had to watch from his cell as his film sat on a police station desk instead of winging its way to Stern magazine.

He had been tempted to abandon his challenge to the arrest a number of times along the way, because of the pressures of freelancing, he said, but had stuck with it.

The NUJ’s spokesman, Tim Gopsill, said the union, which had backed the fight, was especially pleased because Cobbing had been the only person covering demonstrations who had ever been convicted – after a Manchester airport tree protest in 1996.

In recent years, photographers had been arrested, held in cells and even charged but, after representations by the union, never convicted.


By Jean Morgan

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