Austrian tourists visiting London were forced to erase large
portions of their holiday photographs by police officers who
told the pair that they were duty bound to "prevent terrorism".
Klaus Matzka and his teenage son Loris sparked
concern with two London Metropolitan police officers when they
were witnessed snapping pictures of Vauxhall bus and underground
The pair were then forced to delete all pictures
they had taken which had anything to do with transport, including
pictures of London's iconic red double-decker buses.
Matzka, a 69-year-old retired television cameraman
with a taste for modern architecture, was told that photographing
anything to do with transport was "strictly forbidden",
London Guardian reports.
The policemen also recorded the pair's details,
including passport numbers and hotel addresses.
Mr Matzka detailed the experience in the
letters section of the Guardian under the subject
heading Police, protest and the surveillance society:
During a recent visit to London I had a nasty
incident, which killed interest in any further trips to this
city. As I was taking pictures of double-decker buses with
my son, we were approached by two policemen. First, we were
told that it is forbidden to take pictures of anything in
conjunction with transport. Then our names, passport numbers
and London hotel address were noted. After that we were forced
to delete all pictures that included any transport - even
pictures of the new underground station in Vauxhall, which
is a modern sculpture! These deletions were not only enforced
destruction of private property, but an infringement of our
I understand the need for some sensitivity in an era of terrorism,
but isn't it naive to think terrorism can be prevented by
terrorising tourists? Klaus Matzka
In a telephone interview from his home in Vienna,
Matzka said: "I've never had these experiences anywhere,
never in the world, not even in Communist countries."
Mr Matkza has said that he will never visit London
ever again after the incident.
(Article continues below)
Despite police pronouncements that photographing buildings
and transport facilities is "forbidden", there is
no actual law that says so.
One year ago, close to 200
MPs signed up to an Early Day Motion introduced
in the House of Commons by Austin Mitchell, urging the 'Home
Office and the Association of Chief Police Officers to agree
on a photography code for the information of officers on the
ground, setting out the public's right to photograph public
places, thus allowing photographers to enjoy their hobby without
officious interference or unjustified suspicion'.
The motion was introduced after the Metropolitan Police launched
an advertising campaign calling for citizens to report
any 'odd-looking' person taking pictures - to the
disgust of both amateur and professional photographers, who
say they are increasingly demonised.
The Met Police's Anti-terrorist
posters, which are worse than Cold War era propaganda, and a
spoofed response endorsed by the British Press Photographers'
As we have also reported
today, 62-year-old Malcolm Sleath from London was
detained as a terror suspect this week simply for taking a photograph
of a police car in order to document police misconduct.
The general population are literally treated as terrorists
for photographing police misconduct, however it is absolutely
fine for the police to use
cars with telescopic spy cameras on a mast in an
attempt to catch and fine drivers talking on their mobile phones,
eating, applying make-up or otherwise driving illegally.
The nature of Mr Sleath's detainment has raised questions about
whether police were enforcing 58A of the 2000 Terrorism Act,
a passage replicated in the 2008 Counter Terrorism Act.
This section contains ambiguous language which suggests that
merely filming or photographing police officers is an act of
terrorism. When journalist organizations expressed fears that
this law could effectively outlaw a huge part of their profession,
they were told
by PC Alan Cousins of the Metropolitan Police Film Unit
that the law would not impede them.
As of February 17, Section
76 of the Counter Terrorism Act also prohibits
photographing police and permits the arrest of anyone found
"eliciting, publishing or communicating information"
relating to members of the armed forces, intelligence services
and police officers, which is "likely to be useful to a
person committing or preparing an act of terrorism".
Essentially, under anti-terror laws, anyone caught photographing
police could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to 10 years.
Journalists have reacted fiercely to the provisions, which
have been pushing for for some time. The British
Press Photographers' Association, the National Union of Journalists
and the National Association of Press Agencies have all voiced
concern that it has now become routine for police to conduct
surveillance of reporters and photographers covering demonstrations
in London and across the country.
A recent Guardian
investigation confirmed this and revealed that
police target protesters and journalists precisely because they
have the ability to film and photograph them. In response the
police are taking their own surveillance footage and routinely
uploading it onto a database, storing details for at least seven
Because police appear not to have disclosed such activity,
lawyers believe it likely that the technique is in violation
of privacy rights under Article 8 of the Human Rights Act.
Below is a short video summarising the Guardian's findings.
Note how the brainwashed police declare that they trust the
journalists "less than the protesters" and announce
that they think it's wrong that "they think they can just
wander in and out of the bloody field" at the protest.
The officer with the camera also has the temerity to find it
suspicious that one of the journalists doesn't like having his
Also Related: “I’m A Photographer…
Not A Terrorist” - a short film by Jason N.Parkinson