Observer photographer stopped from taking pictures at public A27 event

A photographer working for the Observer was stopped from taking pictures at the latest A27 public exhibition.

Wednesday, 31st August 2016, 1:34 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 1:25 am
Derek Marin was only able to get outside shots of the A27 public exhibition at Lavant Memorial Hall on Tuesday

Derek Martin attended Lavant Memorial Hall on Tuesday to photograph members of the public viewing the plans at the Highways England event.

A Highways spokesperson has said the photographer was asked to contact the media team, and invited into the exhibition ‘in a private capacity in the meantime’.

Derek said: “I arrived at Lavant Memorial Hall to photograph members of the public viewing the A27 exhibition.

The sign at the door saying Hlighways England Welcome

“On arrival I immediately spoke to the gentleman sat behind the desk just inside.

“I explained that I had been sent by the Chichester Observer to take photos. I was asked to wait while he got someone to talk to me.

“A woman representing Highways England then said I would not be allowed to take photos without first going through their media team.

“So I had to leave with only pictures of the hall from outside.”

Derek added: “Just inside, ‘Highways England, welcome’ can be seen on a board.

“I was not welcome - a first at such an event in 36 years as a local press photographer.”

Derek said he was only able to photograph the outside of the village hall.

A Highways England spokesperson said: “We are committed to running a full and open consultation on options for improving the A27 at Chichester.

“Any suggestion that a photographer from the Chichester Observer was ‘banned’ from our event is incorrect and misleading.

“Our event staff asked the photographer to contact the press office, and invited him into the event in a private capacity in the meantime.

“We do ask any media outlet attending any of our events to ring our press office – we take this approach with the dozens of successful events we host every year across the country.

“Media, photographers and members of the public are always very welcome.”

The Observer has not previously been instructed its staff should ring ahead before attending the exhibitions, which are open to the public.

It is not the first incident involving a member of staff from the Observer at a Highways England exhibition.

At the first exhibition held at the Chichester Assembly Rooms in July, reporter Steve Pickthall had a video deleted from his phone without permission by a man representing Highways England. Highways apologised to the reporter and called the incident a ‘misunderstanding’.

At another A27 exhibition a female Observer reporter was told she was not allowed to ask Highways officials any questions at the event.

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