Two Port of Tyne employees have been captured on video threatening a photographer going about his lawful business in a public place.
As there are clear parallels between the Port of Tyne's and TV Licensing's attitude towards amateur photographers, we have decided this story is worth bringing to the attention of our readers.
The photographer in question, 24-year-old media graduate Alan Noble, was positioned on the A194 Jarrow Road, immediately outside the Port of Tyne main entrance. It was the afternoon of 19th February 2016 and Alan was taking a few still shots for a project he was working on.
Video footage shows that Alan was approached by Port of Tyne security manager Kevin McNicholas, who immediately demanded the reason for his presence.
Alan replied, quite correctly, that he did not need to account for his presence in a public place, to which McNicholas replied: "Yes you do, because you're taking photographs of an area which is under the protection of the Department for Transport. If you don't move now, you're going to be arrested".
Alan explained that as he was stood in a public place he had the right to take photographs. The pig-ignorant Port of Tyne man, who was previously the head of security at Newcastle Airport, was having none of it and insisted that Alan would be arrested if he didn't move along.
After a few more moments of McNicholas being generally obnoxious - referring to Alan as a "lunatic", "idiot" and twice telling him to "shut up" - the Port of Tyne man called the police seeking assistance. On the phone he could clearly be heard speculating that Alan might be involved in "hostile reconnaissance" of the Tyne Dock site.
McNicholas was joined by a second, thus far unidentified, Port of Tyne employee, who was wearing a hi-vis jacket. This second aggressor was seen holding onto Alan's tripod and refusing to let go of it when requested. By this stage, Alan was being unlawfully detained by the two Port of Tyne employees. McNicholas demanded to see Alan's images, despite lacking any legal authority to make such a request.
Sadly for him, when the police arrived, they quickly recognised that Alan was well within his rights to take photographs. With Alan's memory card rapidly filling, the video drew to a premature conclusion. However, it is understood that the police officers were quite happy with Alan's continued presence on Jarrow Road and allowed him to carry on taking photographs.
A Northumbria Police spokesman said: "The Port of Tyne’s security officers acted in accordance with the security regulations that apply to major ports.
"No offence has been reported and no further action is being taken. We recognise photographers and film makers are within their rights to film outside an organisation, however, it is always beneficial to help prevent them from being asked to explain what they are doing to inform the organisation in advance that they intend to film outside their premises."
Speaking to the PHNAT website, Alan said: "I was well within my rights to be there, I was on public land filming the Port of Tyne sign as part of a personal project to promote the North East.
"As you can see from the video encounter the police were called. My phone ran out of memory just as the police arrived - in a nutshell, they said I had done nothing wrong and left me to continue doing my work."
As we understand it, the Port of Tyne, despite being fully aware of Alan's complaint, has not seen fit to issue an apology for the conduct of its clueless employees.
Anyone standing in a public area has the full right to take photographs or video footage of anything they see there. The police do not have the authority to stop public photography, so a quango like the Port of Tyne certainly doesn't.
We would encourage everyone with a camera to make a point of visiting the Port of Tyne, standing on the adjacent public highway and taking some photographs of its main entrance.
As the Port of Tyne will undoubtedly read this article, we'd offer it the following observation: The public has a legitimate interest in the fact that your employees - who have absolutely no jurisdiction or legal authority outside the port boundary - saw fit use those non-existent powers in an effort to intimidate a law-abiding individual. The events described above are clear for all the see in Alan's video footage. For that reason we'll not be accepting any edit requests, so don't waste our time by asking.
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