Met apology to teen arrested for taking pics at Romford parade

A teenager wrongly arrested after taking photos at a public parade in Romford town centre received compensation and an apology from the Met Police.

Two officers, including an inspector, stopped freelance photojournalist Jules Mattsson from taking pictures at the Armed Forces Day procession in June 2010, telling him what he was doing was unlawful.

Jules, then aged 15, was told he was a “public hazard” and that taking pictures in public was “anti-social behaviour”.

The inspector described taking photographs as “silly”, “gay” and “stupid.”

Jules, who recorded most of the conversation on his mobile phone, argued his rights, but the inspector declared his actions were “dangerous” as he was “likely to be trampled on by soldiers” from the parade,

Jules, from Hackney, was later manhandled down a set of stairs by a group of officers and arrested for breach of the peace, the boy’s solicitors Bindmans, said.

He was detained for 15 minutes before being released.

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The police said compensation had been paid and an apology issued.

Chez Cotton, head of the police misconduct department at Bindmans, said police had no legal power to stop Jules taking pictures in a public.

“The inspector attempted to justify his actions in shocking and absurd ways,” she said. “The inspector’s comments were designed to belittle.

“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.”

Roy Mincoff, legal officer for the National Union of Journalists, said: “This was very poor and unlawful behaviour by a senior police officer, trying to intimidate a young NUJ photographer. It is not acceptable conduct, has no place in the police force and is hardly likely to gain respect for the police amongst the youth of the UK

Bindmans has not revealed how much Jules received.

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