The Metropolitan police just arrested a journalist for photographing a protest

Guy Smallman filming a drone protester

This article was updated on 19 September at 09:30 to include a revised statement from the Metropolitan police. Originally a spokesperson told The Canary that the arresting officers did not know the man was a journalist when he was arrested. This statement was revised after the bodycam footage of the officers was reviewed.

A photojournalist, who is a member of the NUJ, was arrested by the Metropolitan Police on 18 September for photgraphing a protest.

Guy Smallman was filming one of the Heathrow Pause protesters flying a toy drone near Heathrow when he was arrested. As the image above shows, he was clearly wearing a badge that identified him as press.

“Avoiding scrutiny”

As people pointed out on Twitter, Smallman is a well known and well respected journalist:

Others pointed out that journalists had filmed other days of the drone protest without arrest:

His arrest also led people to wonder if it was “an attempt to avoid scruitny of police behaviour”:

Press freedom

Kevin Blowe, coordinator of the Network for Police Monitoring told The Canary:

Campaigners need the work of journalists to cover the issues they hope to promote but it has generally been understood and accepted by the police that the press observes, rather than participates, in protests.

Guy Smallman’s arrest is, therefore, not only an alarming attack on the freedom of the press but a strong indication senior officers are intending to crack down hard on environmental protests, after the criticism they received about the policing of Extinction Rebellion’s huge action in London in April.

We have feared such a knee jerk reaction for some time, especially with campaigners returning to the streets in October. We are particularly worried that legal observers, who are also non-participants in protests, will face an increased risk of arrest too.

A spokesperson for Metropolitan Police told The Canary:

A further three people have been arrested today, Wednesday 18 September in relation to protest activity that took place in the vicinity of Heathrow Airport.

A 48-year-old male [V] and a 47-year-old male [X] were arrested on suspicion of attempt to cause a public nuisance and conspiracy.

All three have been taken to a south London police station and remain in custody at this time.

A total of 24 people ([A] to [X]) have now been arrested as part of this operation. [A] to [U] have been bailed or released under investigation pending further enquiries.

It is now clear that [X] is a photographic journalist and upon further investigation officers are satisfied that he was not involved in any criminal activity. He has now been released with no further action.

Officers have reviewed body worn footage from before [X] was taken into custody and he states he was a journalist and was in possession of a press pass.

Featured image via Heathrow Pause


We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us
  • Show Comments
    1. Yet more evidence that the Police have been replaced by poorly trained yobs and thugs, & that the Police’s intentions are to be nothing more than a government gang of citizen haters, who only exist to exert an autocratic-minded regime of Political Policing on those who point out that ‘The King has no clothes’.

      The Police Service has become nothing more than an organized crime service, protecting the needs of their corrupt political Dons.

    Leave a Reply

    Join the conversation

    Please read our comment moderation policy here.