Student snubbed in Square

STUDENTS FROM a Kingston University film-making course were prevented by police from filming an interview with Barbara Tucker at the protest camp in Parliament Square, where she lives. As the four overseas students set up the cameras they'd borrowed from the university on November 11 last year, the police told them they would need to apply for a license to film in the square. Police then asked the students to leave the square, giving no explanation and quoting no legislation empowering them to do so.

The police did not prevent another Parliament Square protest camp resident, Brian Haw, from filming the altercation.

A High Court judgment gives Brian the right to hold his protest in Parliament Square with up to 20 people, but it does not confer any additional rights on filming there, other than the right we all have to film in a public place. An argument about whether the police had authority to prevent the students filming ended in Barbara Tucker being arrested.

Written permission may need to be obtained from the Greater London Authority to "take photographs or any other recordings of visual image" but only if it is "for the purpose of or in connection with a business, trade, profession or employment". (This probably refers to photographing for, say, calendars, or shooting feature films, and not to news coverage.) The students insisted they were not filming for any commercial purpose, but police still told them they needed a licence. The students returned later that day with a faxed letter from Kingston University, stating that they were filming for their course and not for commercial purposes. There they were told by a policeman that they still couldn't film without a licence and couldn't film people without their permission.

These are not the terrorists you are looking for
Kingston University's letter explaining that their students were filming in Parliament Square as part of their course.

For the moment, police are no longer arresting demonstators (or journalists filming or photographing them) in Parliament Square under SOCPA, which now seems to be dead (see the report at www.londonfreelance.org/fl/0804subm.html ). A Crown Prosecution Service summary of a case last June said that "owing to changes in SOCPA legislation the unauthorised demonstration offences cannot be proceeded with." However, we've heard recent reports of panda-costumed demonstrators being ordered to leave the square by policing quoting SOCPA at them.

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