Sceptics who dismissed the fuss we made about forthcoming powers of seizure of flash cards have not had to wait long before having their faith in police judgement shown to be misplaced. They argued that a s43 search requires a 'reasonable suspicion that a person is a terrorist', and this was so serious a matter that it was unlikely to be abused.
A mere 3 weeks later we have Superintendent Neil Sherrington, deputy commander for Portsmouth police telling the Press Association that his officers acted 'reasonably' in stopping and questioning a man under the 2000 Terrorism Act who had photographed their police car. Sherrington said they had been suspicious as to why the photograph of the vehicle had been taken. Being illegally parked in a bus lane at a bus stop might have been an obvious clue. How the photo could pose the 'security risk' claimed by officers is not explained, but no doubt if Sherrington told us, he would have to kill us.
On this occasion, the non-terrorist with the seditious optical equipment was questioned, but apparently not searched. David Gates, a 42 year old accounts manager had his details checked and not being on any CIA special rendition manifests, was told a record would be kept for a year then allowed to remain at liberty.
You don't have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out that the likely real explanation of this nonsense is that Gates grumpily thought as any UK citizen would : 'bloody cheek, I'd get ticketed, fined, and clamped within 3.5seconds for parking there, I'll take a photograph of these blimmin' hypocrites', and the officers thought 'now we're going to teach you a lesson for taking the michael sonny'. The photographer had caught the police breaking the law, so had to be punished.
In a saner world the officers would simply have explained their parking as a necessity on an emergency call, as claimed by Sherington. Why this didn't happen probably cannot be disclosed for reasons of operational security, or blatant cover-up as it used to be known. Worse : the senior officer called to account chose to robustly defend this petty vindictiveness rather than apologise to Gates and chastise his men. Well if it works for the Met, why not for Portsmouth?
Had this occurred after the 2008 Act passes, Gates would likely have left without his flash card too.