In the Media

Police forced to apologise to teenager who took photos at military parade

PUBLISHED December 12, 2011

The Metropolitan Police has been forced to apologise and pay compensation to a teenager who was stopped by one of its officers from taking photographs at a military parade and told that it represented ?anti-social behaviour?.

Jules Mattsson, then 15, who was covering the parade as a freelance reporter was prevented from photographing the public event in Romford, East London, in June 2010. According to his solicitors, a police inspector had described taking photographs of the parade as ?anti-social behaviour?.

?On 26 June 2010, (Jules), at the time a 15-year-old student, was photographing the Armed Forces Day parade in Romford,? said a spokesman for the law firm Bindmans.

?Despite the public event taking place in the middle of the town centre, Metropolitan Police officers claimed it was unlawful to photograph the parade.?

?The officers, led by an inspector, insisted he stopped taking photographs.?

?The inspector told (Jules) he was a public hazard and said that photographing in public was ?anti-social behaviour?.

?He described the act of taking photographs as ?silly? and ?gay? and ?stupid?. When (Jules) continued to state the lawfulness of his behaviour, the inspector declared it was ?dangerous? as he was ?likely to be trampled on by soldiers? from the parade.?

Chez Cotton, a solicitor, who is head of the police misconduct department at Bindmans, said: ?The police had no legal power to stop him photographing in a public place. The inspector attempted to justify his actions in shocking and absurd ways.?

Mr Cotton added: ?Our client politely and reasonably maintained that the police were not entitled to interfere with his right to report.

?In response the inspector used serious anti-terrorism legislation, cynically telling Mr Mattsson, ?I consider you a threat under the Terrorism Act, young man. I?ve had enough?.

?The police have no legal power or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict what journalists record.

?It is unacceptable that the police interfered with (Jules?) right to report in any event, but for officers to attempt to intimidate a young reporter in this way is deplorable.

?It is right the Commissioner has promptly apologised and paid a suitable level of damages.?

The Metropolitan Police confirmed that compensation had been paid and an apology issued.