Photo © Andrew Wiard 2008
Andrew Wiard and a couple of other press photographers report an obstructive encounter with private security guards outside City Hall (the Greater London Authority building) today. As Andrew puts it 'I was photographing a demonstration by RMT tube cleaners & supporters.'I saw and photographed a security guard removing a poster from a barrier. I then saw and photographed another security guard telling a demonstrator to stop handing out leaflets.'
'That security guard then shouted at me to stop taking photographs, put his hand in front of my lens, and said I had no permission to take his photograph. I replied that I did not need it and that he had no right to stop me taking photographs. Another guard said we, and there were other photographers present, had no right to take photographs ( meaning, at all ).'
'An RMT official then stepped in to say the guards had no right to prevent their demonstration. A more senior security character then spoke of calling the police, to which I replied yes, get the police. Shortly afterwards they backed off.'
'I would like the NUJ to protest in the strongest possible terms to the Mayor at this attempt to ban press, or for that matter any, photography outside his front door.'
Security on the site is the responsibility of More London Estates, where apparently more means less as far as photography is concerned. Mayor Boris's predecessor Ken Livingstone infamously pioneered anti-photographer restrictions in London, at one time considering a ridiculous city-wide ban whilst enthusiastically supporting the deployment of CCTV. Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose?