Pantomime picture bans deflect from real failings

The ban on the press – and even parents – taking pictures of the primary school concert in Bristol strikes the wrong chord. It is a throwback to all the nonsense of the past few years when the press was stopped from taking pictures of first-year classes, sports days, rugby matches, swimming galas and even pantomimes.

The hysterical climate surrounding fear of paedophiles and wrong interpretations of the Data Protection Act led to bans on pictures that traditionally have been a staple of the local press.

Only last January education secretary Charles Clarke seemed to have eased the concerns of the Newspaper Society by stating that DfES advice had been misinterpreted. It was meant to apply to schools’ own publications. Now we seem to be back where we started.

Sir Michael Bichard’s scathing inquiry report this week on the Soham murders showed how dangerous a misinterpretation of the Data Protection Act could be.

Information about killer Ian Huntley failed to be passed on by police who wrongly believed that, to do so, would breach the act.

Lessons should be learnt from that grave case, rather than various authorities continuing to impose daft picture bans on the press and public attending innocent children’s events such as concerts, plays and sports days.

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