Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Section 43 and photographers.

You may recall the incident less than a fortnight ago when young Jules Mattson was taken to one side by several Police officers during the Armed Forces Day events in Romford.

It appears that it's happened again, a mere 10 days later, and this time in London - when he was photographing Cadets near Buckingham Palace. He had "received approval from the cadets' supervisors as he was shooting images for the cadets' website". (link to BJP)

The Police have, perhaps, at long last been told that using Section 44 is out of bounds - because the BBC tells us it was ruled illegal by the European Court of Human Rights in January 2010 a fact that was brought to the public eye again in June 2010 when the BBC announced that "Thousands of anti-terror searches were illegal" - but didn't mention that the last government had lodged an appeal against the earlier ruling, which was lost.

Today the Police chose another section of the Terrorism Act 2000 - they chose to use Section 43. But this isn't the first time. (Also mentioned here in February)

Here's what Section 43 of the Terrorism Act 2000 (link OPSI) says :-
43 Search of persons

(1) A constable may stop and search a person whom he reasonably suspects to be a terrorist to discover whether he has in his possession anything which may constitute evidence that he is a terrorist.

(2) A constable may search a person arrested under section 41 to discover whether he has in his possession anything which may constitute evidence that he is a terrorist.

(3) A search of a person under this section must be carried out by someone of the same sex.

(4) A constable may seize and retain anything which he discovers in the course of a search of a person under subsection (1) or (2) and which he reasonably suspects may constitute evidence that the person is a terrorist.

(5) A person who has the powers of a constable in one Part of the United Kingdom may exercise a power under this section in any Part of the United Kingdom.
Mrs Rigby thought it was odd that a teenager, legitimately taking pictures in a very public place could be 'reasonably suspected' of being a terrorist. She has absolutely no idea what the young man might look like, but she thought he must be very unusual, perhaps of striking appearance, perhaps wearing outlandish clothes, and maybe looking a bit unkempt?

Perhaps like this a younger version of this chap? (image Telegraph)

Or maybe he looked like a youthful tramp - such as the one at the front right of this picture? (image HeraldSun)

Perhaps he was tidy-ish, but was smoking a cigarette - like this chap (source)

Mrs R isn't at all sure whether the famous people pictured above might be 'reasonably believed to be terrorists', but the Police must have reasonably thought Jules was one, from either his behaviour or his appearance - otherwise they shouldn't have detained him. That is what the law clearly says.

Here's how some people who know Jules Mattson describe him ... According to this person who says ...
I know Jules and he couldn't really be any more the opposite of the above description. He's polite, courteous and very unobtrusive as he goes about his business.
and another person says ...
knowing people who teach him and help him and guide him while shooting along side him, and his dad being a well know photo journalist, he is trained very well from what I am told and remains very quiet and invisible where he can, I am talking about marc vallee, david hoffman and many other well know shooters. I doubt he was causing any trouble at all. I feel a harassment case coming on very soon.
So, maybe today some 'MOP'* pointed to Jules and his camera and said that he was a terrorist, maybe somebody or other has complained that the pictures on his Flickr pages are unsuitable (they're of politicians, and protests, and other things like that) or maybe somebody has told the Police they're not happy with his blog?

Who knows? It seems that earlier today the Police weren't too sure either because (link to Amateur Photographer)
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police did not have a record of the incident when contacted by Amateur Photographer this afternoon.

There's a saying, isn't there, it's something like "Once is an Accident, twice is a Coincidence, and three times ..."

MOP = Police-speak for Member of the Public.

Just noticed that the same issue is mentioned by Al Jahom along with some other tidbits - please read what he says.


JuliaM said...

"There's a saying, isn't there, it's something like "Once is an Accident, twice is a Coincidence, and three times ...""

Spot on!

Catosays said...

Police misuse of this act is now becoming very worrying. They appear to be taking no notice of force directives.

JuliaM said...

Oh, it's not just the police any more....

Not a sheep said...

Great article but the actual quotation from James Bond's Goldfinger is "Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence but the third time is enemy action".