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THE arrest of a photojournalist for doing his job is “disturbing and concerning,” the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) said today.
Guy Smallman was arrested with two Heathrow Pause demonstrators yesterday. He attended the protest in a professional capacity, having heard about it through press communications sent out by Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Heathrow airport.
He said: “The police asked to see my press card — which I showed them — and another form of ID which luckily I also had.”
After conferring for a few minutes, the officers arrested two activists before telling Mr Smallman he was under arrest as well.
The Metropolitan Police later announced that it had released a freelance photojournalist without further action, concluding that he was not involved in any criminal action.
He was held for more than nine hours at Wandsworth police station before he was released and his equipment returned intact.
A Met statement said: “Officers have reviewed body-worn footage from before [he] was taken into custody and he states he was a journalist and was in possession of a press pass.”
A lawyer for the NUJ, of which Mr Smallman is a member, also attended the police station to assist him.
NUJ organiser David Ayrton told the Star that the union was “disturbed and concerned” that a member was arrested while working. He said the NUJ will be discussing the possibility of legal action with Mr Smallman.
He said: “Meanwhile, in tandem, we are pursuing broader discussions with the Metropolitan Police where this matter will be raised robustly — as will the wider issues facing our members when covering situations involving public order.
“We continue to insist upon the right of media professionals to go about their work unhindered. This right is fundamental to ensuring the freedom of the press.”
Mr Smallman later tweeted: “Humble apologies to those of you trying to call and message me today. I wasn’t ignoring you. Got a bit detained at work.”
More than 20 activists have been arrested in total since last week for attempting to disrupt flights at Heathrow airport in protest against plans for a third runway.
The activists from Heathrow Pause, which is a splinter from XR, have all been bailed or released under investigation pending further inquiries.
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