Paper complains over confiscated film


Police forced a photographer from the Wakefield Express to hand over his film of a road accident or face arrest.

The paper’s editor, Ed Asquith, has sent a letter of complaint to the West Yorkshire force’s head press officer over "the illegal confiscation".

He has demanded to know what grounds the officer had for stating that photographer Peter Vickers, who has been with the Express for 30 years, had to hand over the film or face arrest.

The picture showed a lorry flanked by two police cars, following an accident in Morley last Friday involving two pedestrians.

Asquith, editor-in-chief of the Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group, said: "The photographer was not obstructing anyone in the course of their duty. He was well back from the accident scene itself and he was on a public highway. He was not doing anything illegal. Peter showed the officer his business card so he knew he was a bona fide journalist and the officer had no right to demand the film."

The film was only returned later when news editor Mark Lavery contacted the police press office which immediately apologised and arranged for it to be returned.

But when Vickers went back to retrieve it, he was harangued by another officer, a police sergeant, who demanded to know why he was taking pictures "like a vulture", claimed Asquith. Vickers is now off work suffering from stress and anxiety .

Asquith added: "We would not publish pictures of blood and gore from a road accident and we never have. The picture itself may not even be worth using but we don’t want a police officer confiscating film, threatening arrest or giving us lectures on what kind of images and jobs we should or should not be using.

"The police actions belong more to the streets of Moscow, Beijing or Genoa, not Morley."

The police press office told Asquith that the two officers would be spoken to by a divisional commander. Asquith is informing the Society of Editors.

By Jean Morgan

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