Sunday, September 21, 2008

Tory councillor accused of terrorism for taking a photo

If you've ever been concerned that the Terrorism legilsation in this country is dangerous and could be easily abused you only have to listen to this tale from the London Borough of Greenwich.

Last week, the Tory Leader of the Opposition on the Council was stopped by Police and accused of being a terrorist whilst he took a photo of the local Police station for a ward by-election campaign leaflet.

This is not a joke. Councillor Spencer Drury (pictured) was out in Plumstead High Street to gauge opinion on the issues down there in advance of a ward by-election next Thursday. He was also taking photos and when he got to the Police Station he took a photo of it.

After doing this a Police van pulled up, an officer got out, and then asked what he was doing. Cllr Drury explained that he was a local politician and that he was taking pictures for literature in the upcoming by-election. The police officer however did not believe him and demanded identification under the Terrorism Act.

When Cllr Drury asked if the officer thought he was a terrorist he was told the answer was "Yes". Council identification was produced, radio communications made and an embarrassed police officer (who presumably got a bollocking) let them go on their way.

Now, you have to wonder what the world is coming to when a local politician takes a photo of a Police station and then gets told it is believed he is a terrorist meaning that the Terrorism Act can be used to force him to "show his papers".

18 comments:

jailhouselawyer said...

Perhaps this is why it should be yes to ID Cards for politicians?

I had a similar experience once taking a photo outside of Nottingham Prison. My camera and film was confiscated by prison officers, who thought my actions were terrorist related.

Unfortunately, I could not fulfill the wish of a con who said he had only seen the inside of a prison.

Tony Sharp said...

This is a clear abuse of the police powers. There is no law that prevents a private citizen from photographing anything that can be seen from the public highway. Police officers can decree that someone is drunk, but not that they are a terrorist.

Mostly Ordinary said...

Don't be silly, if you've done nothing wrong and don't have a big bushy beard what do you have to worry about? Oh wait ...

Old Holborn said...

Tell the police to fuck off.

Yes, they can take your dna, your fingerprints and your photo, but if you don't say a word, they'll have no idea who they belong to.

And they hate it.

Mark said...

We should have a national "photograph a police station" day in protest :-)

John Pickworth said...

And if this had been a someone not fortunate to be a politian or carrying Council identification? How would the officer had dealt with a regular member of the public I wonder?

Anonymous said...

Mark is absolutely right. This and other abuses of power need to be given a great deal of publicity.

Come on all you bloggers, organise us and we will follow.

canvas said...

He is pretty dodgy looking...he has that look of a Tory politician...

;)

Guthrum said...

I know him, what happened to the beard and turban ?

ianvisits said...

Ironic that this story would get published on the weekend when thousands of Londoners are wandering all over the place taking millions of photos - as part of London Open House Weekend.

Gallimaufry said...

Alas Jacquie Smith is the Home Secretary so common sense no longer applies. I blogged about this in July and the story was a month old then:
http://listeningblogger.blogspot.com/2008/07/home-secretary-says-police-can-make-up.html
and follow the links.
btw it has always been forbidden to take photos of the outside of prisons, nuclear installations and certain defence bases even from the public highway.

Anonymous said...

Last time it happened, I told the PCSO in question that he was breaching the Misuse of Official Powers Act of 1893. Penalty for threatening someone with arrest for a non-existent offence - 2 years plus an unlimited fine. He seemed shocked.

If they can invent laws, so can you :-)

Curly said...

I can sympathise, these occurrences are becoming all too common.

Anonymous said...

Look we're not be attacked by "blond, Lutheran, Scandanavians"- The answer is simple is to stop and search anyone who is a Moslem or looks like a Moslem and is acting an a unusual manner. Let the rest os us get on with our lives

Niccolo Machiavelli said...

Would it have been an offence for him to have told the police officer to fuck off?

I see this happen daily when tourists take photos of the Houses of Parliament.

If you're a terrorist aiming to blow up Big Ben, chances are you don't need a fucking photo to identify it.

Perchance they do, all they need is this.

Niccolo Machiavelli said...

P.S. If you ARE a terrorist reading this, and you DO want to blow up Plumstead Cop Shop, wait til the local elections and you can get a photo of it to identify the thing from the election literature. Failing that you could try the website of the company that refurbished it.

Dan said...

I'm amazed he found a copper at all. I never see them at all these days....

Anonymous said...

>We should have a national "photograph a police station" day in protest :-)

Hmmmm.