Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News Shorts And Other Business

Freelance Journalists Targetted

Squall 10, Summer 1995, pg. 7.

Four freelance journalists covering demonstrations were arrested in the first week of June, heralding what may be a change in police tactics towards NVDA protests.

SQUALL also understands that in April, during an action against the A3 in Hindhead, Hampshire, security guards sprayed white paint onto camera lenses.

Nick Cobbing, a freelance photographer who works for SQUALL and Corrie Cheyne, of Small World Video, were among five people arrested during an action against the launch of the new Alfa Romeo saloon car in Baker Street, London.

About 15 members of the Revolutionary Pedestrian’s Front - one of several groups sprouting from the anti-roads movement gatecrashed the launch, read out the Government’s accident statistics and pelted the car with flour and paint.

According to Corrie, she and Nick had lingered to photograph the aftermath when showroom staff made a “citizen’s arrest” and held them until police arrived.

“I told them that I was a freelance journalist filming for Small World,” she said. “They (the police) confiscated the camera, tape and battery belt which they will hold until August.” Nick also had his film confiscated, although it had been accidentally exposed.

Nick was arrested despite telling police that he was photographing the event for New Statesman and showing them his NUJ card. Both were held for 22 hours and bailed until August. They were arrested for criminal damage and assault although have not yet been charged.

Equally suspect was the arrest of writer Ursula Wills-Jones and photographer Justin Cooke during a demo against an open-cast coal mine in Garforth, near Leeds, on June 1st. They were covering the event for the Big Issue North West and were among 19 people arrested for aggravated trespass - the first arrests for demonstrations under the CJA other than hunt sabs.

Both were carrying NUJ cards and again the police refused to believe they were freelance journalists. They were held for 13 hours before being charged and are due to appear in court on July 4th. Jason’s film, however, was not confiscated.

“In the last couple of years video has been used in evidence and the number of people being cleared due to video evidence is worrying them,” Corrie told SQUALL. “This year alone five cases have been overturned or did not make it to court because of Small World footage.”