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August 30, 2022updated 07 Oct 2022 7:14am

MyLondon reporter covering eco protest arrested and held by police for seven hours

By Dominic Ponsford

A reporter for MyLondon spent seven hours in police custody on Friday after being arrested whilst covering an eco protest in Hammersmith.

Callum Cuddeford was arrested at 6.45am on Friday morning after he had just finished interviewing a protestor.

MyLondon reports that after being handcuffed he asked to show police his press card, but they placed him under caution and put him in a police van anyway.

Cuddeford videoed the attack (providing further evidence that he was a reporter, rather than a perpetrator).

MyLondon says in its report: “While in the van he could overhear discussions taking place about him being a reporter but that there had been an accusation. Once at the police station he was searched, his possessions taken away and another officer then checked his press card.

“In the cell he was given cups of water and some food and a blanket. MyLondon was able to arrange for a solicitor to attend the police station. A detective sergeant later informed Callum that they were looking at CCTV and about two hours later he was released without charge.”

Just Stop Oil staged a number of protests across London involving smashing petrol pumps with hammers.

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Cuddeford was reportedly arrested after being wrongly identified as one of the vandals by a member of staff at the petrol station.

MyLondon editor Andy Worden said: “It’s vitally important that the press are allowed to report on protests without fear that reporters could be arrested simply for doing their job. We accept that the police had a responsibility to investigate the accusation that had been made.

“But given that Callum had video evidence showing who had actually carried out the vandalism, it’s questionable whether he needed to spend over seven hours in a police cell waiting to inevitably be released without charge.”

This is the second time in recent years that a UK reporter has been wrongfully arrested whilst covering a protest.

In 2020, photographer Andy Aitchison was arrested at home by Kent Police after covering a protest at an asylum centre.

As with the most recent case, police were not interested in seeing his press card.

He was held in custody for seven hours after being arrested at home.

Kent Police chief constable Alan Pughlsey ultimately apologised to Aitchison and the force paid him damages for unlawful arrest.

Picture credit: MyLondon

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