A Northern Rail employee who ordered a journalist to delete video footage from his mobile phone and threatened him with arrest under anti-terrorism legislation if he failed to follow orders was wrong, the company admitted today.
Northern Rail also apologised to Alex Evans, a reporter for The Star newspaper in Sheffield, over the actions of one of its Rail Response team members.
The apology followed an incident on Monday when Evans was ordered by the official, who he initially thought was a police officer, to delete footage he had taken while covering a protest at Sheffield railway station by a group of pensioners.
British Transport Police have been criticised for the way its officers handled the demonstration, a "Freedom Ride" to protest at cuts in travel passes for the elderly and disabled, with critics saying they were heavy-handed.
Evans was filming the protest – and the arrests – when he was approached by an official in a blue uniform who ordered him to stop filming with his mobile phone, and to delete the footage he had already taken.
"He said it was an offence under the Terrorism Act – an arrestable offence under the Terrorism Act," Evans said.
"To me he was threatening to arrest me."
A Northern Rail spokeswoman confirmed that the man who approached Evans was a member of one of its Rail Response teams.
She said: "Following an incident at Sheffield station on Monday, we are supporting the British Transport Police investigation, which will include speaking to those involved.
"We know the officer in question was incorrect to delete the phone footage and we are re-briefing our Rail Response Team to ensure this does not happen again. We apologise to Mr Evans for the events that occurred."
Earlier, the firm had said: "Members of the media must have written permission from the train operator which manages the station before undertaking any filming on station property.
"Under no circumstances are Northern Rail employees to be filmed without prior agreement."
Evans was filming scenes of two men, aged 65 and 64, being handcuffed, arrested and bundled away by British Transport Police officers when the Northern Rail official stepped in.
The arrests, and the way police handled the detained pair, sparked anger from Sheffield Disabled People Against The Cuts and Barnsley Retirees Action Group, the Star reported.
The two men have since been charged with failure to pay, and obstructing police.
Protesters were at the station after travelling without paying from Meadowhall to the city centre in their latest "Freedom Ride".