Photographer’s upper body exposed by ‘security guard’ as she covers UKUncut demo

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Managers at TopShop are to meet with representatives from the NUJ after a photographer alleges she was abused when taking pictures during a UKUncut action in March.

Jess Hurd claims she was forced to the back of the London store by a member of staff and her clothing pulled up, exposing her upper body.

The company refused to investigate her complaint until the union called a protest outside the Oxford Circus store for Saturday. The protest was called off after the company agreed to talks.

Jess Hurd said: “I am pleased Topshop have apologised for the delay and offered to meet with the NUJ – up until now the company had ignored my complaint. I would like to thank fellow NUJ members who organised solidarity and put pressure on Topshop via social networks.

“Collectively we will continue to make companies accountable when they refuse to respect press freedom and defend members who suffer abuse in this way.”

NUJ general secretary Michelle Stanistreet said: “I am glad Topshop have seen sense and have responded to the complaint. Journalists play a critical public interest role in reporting on protests so the public are informed about what was happening. It is simply unacceptable that NUJ members face abuse and harassment whilst doing their jobs.”

Jess Hurd described the event in a complaint sent to Topshop in March 2012:

“Whilst attempting to photograph arrests of peaceful Uk Uncut protesters in Topshop, Oxford Circus, I was asked by a person I thought to be a security guard to leave, I said ‘ok’.

“As I was leaving I took a couple of pictures of an arrest. The man then said ‘right I’m arresting you for aggravated trespass’. He was not wearing a uniform and had not identified himself as a police officer. 

“He began manhandling me, I said, ‘I’m a member of the press, I don’t understand why you are arresting me, I’m trying to leave’. He continued to use force to move me towards the back of the store and pulled my clothing up, exposing my upper body. I was sure that he didn’t have arrest powers and challenged again, he then said he was detaining me for ‘resisting arrest’. He was using quite a lot of force and I was shouting ‘you’re assaulting me, get your hands off me’. 

“The security guard who ‘arrested’ me said that I couldn’t photograph and to keep my camera pointed down. The police officers held me by each wrist.

“I asked them if I was really arrested and they said yes. I asked them under what law I was arrested as I was there working as a member of the press. They quoted s68 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act. 

“I asked if I could get my phone out because I wanted to record their details and the law they were using. They refused saying that I could make a call down at the police station. They continued to hold me and asked to take my camera which I declined.

“An inspector came into the room. I asked him why I was being held and that I was a member of the press. The male officer asked him if they were ‘continuing the original plan’, or words to that effect. The inspector said ‘hang on’ and sent the woman officer to get the security guard. 

“They all came back and said I would be released but that I was ‘banned from Topshop’, I asked ‘why?’ and he said it was because I ‘trespassed’. I clarified, ‘so I’m not arrested then?’ and the inspector said, ‘not if you acknowledge that you have been banned from the store’.


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