This week, the police were probably the only ones doing more self-inflicted reputational damage than Gavin Williamson. Not only have they failed to stop M25 climate protests four days on the trot, and allowed eggs to be thrown at the king – the only people they have thrown into prison cells have been blameless journalists doing their job.
The media world were all horrified to hear the experience of LBC’s Charlotte Lynch, who ended up in a cell for five hours for reporting – at distance – the Just Stop Oil protests. Earlier in the week, a photographer and a filmmaker were also held in custody for about 13 hours.
In the end, they were all released without charge.
This morning, the Police & Crime Commissioner for Hertfordshire, David Lloyd, finally apologised to Lynch – but ruined the PR by victim-blaming journalists: they shouldn’t have been covering the protests in the first place.
“I do think that [LBC] too need to have a think about how we as a society, as a community, ensure that oxygen of publicity that Just Stop Oil is seeking is moderated, so that we don’t end up with people doing this and really they’re only doing it because they know it’s going to be reported.”
They’re not: they’re doing it because it ruins many thousands of peoples’ day.
Blaming of the media by senior police representatives is at odds with the police’s desire to get coverage of their own responses to the protests. Four days ago, the Met invited The Sun along to a showcase arrest of Extinction Rebellion founder Roger Hallam.
So much for journalists giving the groups unnecessary oxygen…