Photographer and filmmaker were arrested and held while reporting

Fury as photographer and filmmaker are arrested and held overnight in custody while reporting on Just Stop Oil M25 protest (while eco-mob shut down the motorway for more than four hours)

  • A photographer and filmmaker were held in police custody for around 13 hours
  • They were documenting the Just Stop Oil protest on the M25 on Monday
  • Photographer Tom Bowles had his house searched by three officers, he said 
  • The British Press Photographers’ Association said it ‘strongly condemns’ arrests 

A photographer and filmmaker have said they were held in police custody for around 13 hours after being arrested while reporting on a Just Stop Oil protest — while the eco-activists shut down the motorway for more than four hours.

Documentary maker Rich Felgate and photographer Tom Bowles had been capturing the activists on a footbridge over the M25 near Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, at close to 11am on Monday when they were handcuffed.

The pair, both of whom say have no affiliation with the group, had their equipment seized and were taken to a police station, despite efforts to show their press cards.

The arrests have been condemned by the British Press Photographers’ Association.

Mr Bowles, 47, from Hackney, east London, said that he was held until 1.30am, hours after his wife and 14-year-old daughter were woken up as three officers searched their home.

He went on: ‘As a photographer I’ve covered hundreds of protests and I’ve never been along as a protester, it’s not my cup of tea, I photograph them and that’s it.

‘I feel pretty cross, I’m aware of the police and how they interact with people and they generally do a pretty good job, but yesterday was absolutely shocking.

Photographer Tom Bowles (pictured) told the officer that he was a member of the press and tried to show his press ID as he was being handcuffed

Mr Bowles’ arrest was captured by documentary maker Rich Felgate who was also handcuffed on the bridge 

A Just Stop Oil protester being detained after they climbed a gantry on the M25, leading to the closure of the motorway on Monday 

A person stands on a gantry above the M25 during the Just Stop Oil protest on Monday 

‘I’ve not photographed an arrest that’s as bad as the ones that me and Rich went through.

‘I said “good morning officer” as he walked to me and he grabbed my arm, pulled me away, told me to secure my camera and told me he was arresting me and put handcuffs on me straight away.

‘I’m not a big bloke, I’m not a fighter, but he held me and put the handcuffs on while I was still holding my camera, so it was all very quick and very unnecessary.’

Just Stop Oil protesters shut down the M25 again today causing more pain for the 100,000-plus people on the road each day.

It was the second day of protests on the motorway, with Just Stop Oil members blaming ‘rich men’s profit’ for climate change. 

Incredibly the protesters returned to some of the same locations as yesterday but police were still unprepared to stop them

Just Stop Oil said ‘approximately 15’ of its supporters climbed onto overhead gantries in ‘multiple locations’ on the UK’s busiest motorway from 7am, causing police to halt traffic.

Officers from Kent, Essex, and the Met have be called into action for a second day to remove protesters from motorways

Proud of themselves: Just Stop Oil proudly posted their latest stunt in an embarrassment for police who failed again to stop it

National Highways secured a High Court injunction this week to prevent Just Stop Oil protesters disrupting England’s busiest motorway – but it totally failed.

The court granted a further injunction which aimed to stop unlawful demonstrations on the M25, which encircles Greater London, in an attempt to end disruption to the busy road by the environmental group.

It meant anyone entering the motorway and fixing themselves to any object or structure on it, and anyone assisting in such an act, could be held in contempt of court.

They could face imprisonment, an unlimited fine, and the seizure of assets.

The injunction was secured in addition to a court order obtained by National Highways earlier this year that targeted protesters including those from Insulate Britain.

National Highways’ existing injunction covers the M25, the M25 feeder roads and major roads in Kent and around the Port of Dover until May 2023.

Junction 30 close to Lakeside in Essex remains closed this afternoon because of the protests, with drivers facing diversions and five miles of queues. 

The continued protests are deeply embarrassing for police, who were dodged again by men and women able to climb motorway gantries to shut the road — despite choosing the same time, locations and the exact same method as yesterday — with growing fears that drivers might take matters into their own hands.

The Met arrested eight alleged ringleaders on Sunday night who were due in court today — but dozens of their supporters headed to the M25 undeterred for the second day straight.

Fed-up drivers ignored smart motorway markings to go into closed lanes in a desperate attempt to get to work as protesters claimed they had ‘to take action to survive’. 

They targeted the M25 gantries at junctions 1b, 8/9, 12/13, 7/8, 11, 14/15, 20, 21a, 22, 27 and 31. Many of them were the same locations hit yesterday, sparking disbelief police were today not better prepared.

Police said five people were arrested after protesters yesterday attempted to climb overhead gantries at various junctions.

Mr Felgate, 30, who is making a documentary on Just Stop Oil, claimed officers had suggested the pair were involved in planning the protest.

He went on: ‘For them to make that jump is just astounding, it felt very concerning that it didn’t matter about press IDs.

‘This isn’t the first time they’ve arrested members of the press at Just Stop Oil protests, they know full well they’re arresting members of the press.

‘It feels like a trend rather than a mistake.’

The British Press Photographers’ Association (BPPA) said it ‘strongly condemns’ the arrests.

It added: ‘News gatherers should be able to operate freely without fear of arrest.’

Hertfordshire Police said: ‘In line with standard policing practice, we would not name or confirm the identity of anyone who has been arrested or anyone suspected of a crime other than in exceptional circumstances.

‘We can confirm that three people who were arrested in connection with the protest activity yesterday have been released with no further action.’

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