Press were attacked with rocks, eggs and other projectiles as they reported from the funeral procession of a burglar, who was killed by a pensioner last month after breaking into his home, which took place today.
One journalist said it was the most under threat he had felt in his ten-year career, while another said he felt unsafe as police reportedly told the press pack they could not guarantee anyone’s safety.
A teenager has been arrested on suspicion of assault, police have said.
Henry Vincent was stabbed and killed by Richard Osborn-Brooks in Hither Green, south east London, on 4 April this year. Osborn-Brooks, 78, was arrested over the incident, but later released without charge.
Daily Star reporter Oliver Pritchard told Press Gazette he felt unsafe this afternoon as he was among a group of around 50 journalists who were attacked near the church as Vincent’s funeral cortege came past.
He said: “The Travellers have been very hostile to the press from the get go.
“Police said there was a plan to rush all the photographers and journalists when the cortege came into the church. They said you don’t have to move but we advise you move and we can’t guarantee your safety.”
The press pack then moved to a nearby road, Pritchard said, adding: “That’s when I got hit by a couple of eggs.”
As the funeral procession (pictured) came past, Pritchard said mourners were throwing eggs. He said he saw one person with a slingshot and another threw a rock in his direction but it fell short.
He also claimed to have seen a press photographer get punched in the face.
Mourners shouted abuse at press, he said, including: “If you take any pictures we’re going to kick your heads in,” and “karma’s going to get you”.
Pritchard filmed police asking press to move away and telling reporters: “You’re not helping the situation.”
— Oliver Pritchard (@journo_oliver) May 3, 2018
He added: “The police split us up and then they advised us to leave the area. To be fair, the police have been alright. The officers have been quite friendly. It’s a difficult situation, tensions are running very high.
“I think the family blame the press for vilifying Henry and have vented their frustrations.
“From the get go they [the police] always knew it was going to turn violent. It was always clear they were going to take out their frustrations on the press.”
LBC reporter Mike Hughes was also pelted by objects as he covered the cortege. He told presenter Shelagh Fogarty live on air: “Chaos has descended here.
“In my ten years as a journalist, I have never felt so under threat. I’ve had bottles thrown in my face. I am covered in egg, which was pelted at me.
“It all came from members of the funeral cortege. I was surrounded by people who were very angry, very upset and became very violent, very quickly.”
BBC News correspondent Helena Lee said on Twitter that a brick had been thrown at her team’s broadcast vehicle, while cans of drink were also hurled towards them.
She added: “Verbal abuse towards us by a man (with face covered) who threatened to kick a colleague, called us scum and said he’d remember our faces and find us.”
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said: “Projectiles were thrown at photographers and journalists present in High Street, Orpington – reporting on the funeral of Henry Vincent – on the afternoon of Thursday, 3 May. Officers spoke to those involved at the scene.
“A male, believed to be in his teens, was arrested on suspicion of assault following an incident in High Street, Orpington, at the junction of Elizabeth Way at around 13.15hrs. He has been released under investigation to return to a police station at a later date.
“The victim sustained minor injuries caused by a projectile thrown, and was treated by a medic at the scene. Where necessary, advice was given by officers to journalists present to maintain peace.”
Picture: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire