The Manchester Evening News has claimed rank and file police officers ‘no longer seem to understand or respect the role of the press’– after one of its photographers was arrested trying to snap a mass brawl outside a magistrates’ court.
Sean Wilton was at Manchester Magistrates’ Court covering the appearance of two men accused of assaulting Big Fat Gypsy Wedding star Paddy Doherty.
When a fight broke out between two gangs outside the court Wilton started taking pictures of the scene – only to find himself accused of breach of the peace and taken away in a police car.
According to the MEN the arrest was later quashed and Wilton was released without charge after senior officers became involved.
The paper also claimed that other MEN photographers were threatened with arrest if they did not delete their pictures of the fight.
Wilton told the MEN about his encounter with a policeman: ‘He didn’t seem to want to listen and told me that I was obstructing the police.
‘I tried to explain I wasn’t obstructing and was just doing my job, but to no avail.
‘When I tried to speak to him about the situation, he arrested me for breach of the peace.
‘As professional photographers, we do try to conduct ourselves as professionally as possible.’
A police spokesman told the newspaper: ‘A photographer was arrested to prevent a breach of the peace and on suspicion of obstructing a police officer. Officers brought the situation under control and the photographer was de-arrested and subsequently released.”
In a comment article today the MEN said the episode raised serious questions about the ‘police’s attitude to professional journalists doing their job in bearing witness to a newsworthy event in a public place in the middle of Manchester”.
The editorial continued: ‘Wiser judgement prevailed when senior officers became involved. But this unfortunate incident is evidence of a worrying phenomenon, that some rank and file police officers no longer seem to understand or respect the role of the press.
‘When we reach the stage that constables decide where we can and cannot point a camera in bringing you the news, we will be living in a police state.”