There has been widespread international outrage after a journalist was arrested in the US for simply asking a question to one of Donald Trump’s cabinet members.
By contrast, when a UK photo-journalist is arrested here in Britain and is due in court for covering an anti-fracking demonstration – the compliant UK press is completely silent.
Fracking is a controversial subject in Bolton as the local Tory MP Chris Green is defending an extremely narrow majority of just 801 against strong local feeling against fracking.
Could this be an attempt to intimidate local press from covering a subject which could damage a local MP in a Tory marginal – not to mention a government which supports fracking – during the election campaign?
Or are we in Britain so kow-towed to our ruling masters that we no longer even notice – let alone care – when any members of the press not prepared to tow the government line are being silenced before our very eyes?
Local documentary photographer unfairly targeted by police after covering an
anti-fracking demonstration for nine minutes.
A photographer has been unfairly targeted by police after covering an anti-fracking protest in Greater Manchester.
Oldham-based Peter Yankowski-Walker, 53, was arrested in Horwich, Bolton, on February 28, 2017 nine minutes after arriving at a demonstration outside AE Yates, a company who have supplied oil and gas exploration firm Cuadrilla with a drilling pad for their controversial fracking work in Lancashire.
While photographing the demonstration, Yankowski-Walker was arrested for obstructing a public highway – after almost being knocked down by on of AE Yates trucks. He was held in a prison cell for 10 hours before charged. Yankowski-Walker believes he has been unfairly targeted by police because of a government crackdown on journalists sympathetically covering anti-fracking demonstrations.
At his subsequent appearance at Bolton Magistrates Court police presented the criminal record of another man as Yankowski-Walker’s, a mistake they later admitted – yet the same incorrect criminal records was presented at a second court date in Manchester nine days later.
Peter Yankowski-Walker does not have a criminal record.
During his police interview after his arrest, Yankowski-Walker said police tried to coerce him into admitting guilt; he claims this excessive form of policing is part of a government-led attack on protest and suppression of information surrounding fracking.
Peter Yankowski Walker said: “I am trying not to be paranoid, but when sat in a dock after not even committing a crime and to see the effort to prosecute someone for something so trivial is mind blowing and a waste of taxpayers money. Especially as the incident was live-streamed and completely backs up my statement.
“The judge demanded the Crown Prosecution Service remove the wrongful criminal record from my file – but he decided to take my case to a full day’s trial, using as evidence against me body cam footage from four directions. This was pushed forward by two representatives from the Crown Prosecution Services.
“Independent photographers and film-makers are seeing a trend unfolding as in the last few months the police have stepped up their arrest rates on anti-frackers. Valued footage has helped cases to clarify that no wrongdoing occurred and it seems now, those who document and provide evidence are being targeted too. Photojournalists, documentary filmmakers and live-streamers have contacted me to say that that they are experiencing less tolerance by the police and more oppression, whist collecting evidence and imagery of social change.
“I feel that my case is being treated more seriously because of the links with documenting the protest against hydraulic fracturing than it would be if it was another subject. I am honour-bound however to continue to do my job; unbiased grass roots reporting is essential in providing a balanced picture.”
Yankowski-Walker under the name Peter Walker is due to appear before a district judge at Manchester and Salford Magistrates Court, Crown Square, M60 1PR Time 9.30am May 15th, 2017.
February 28, 2017 – Peter Yankowski-Walker is arrested at demonstration outside AE Yates in Horwich, Bolton.
March 7, 2017 – Bolton Magistrates Court. False criminal record of Yankowski-Walker to magistrates. Yankowski-Walker visits Bolton police later who agree that false records were presented in court.
March 16, 2017 – pre-trial, Manchester. Police again present false criminal record of Yankowski-Walker to district judge.
May 15th, 2017 – due to be appear before district judge at Manchester Magistrates Court.
Images of Peter Yankowski-Walker are available upon request.
Contact Peter Yankowski-Walker:
You can see some of Peter Yankowski’s images here:
Salford Star: http://salfordstar.com/article.asp?id=2673
Primrose Bank, Past, Present and Future. Social documentary photographic book.
Peter Yankowski-Walker has a Masters in International Photojournalism, having trained with one of Britain’s best know social documentary photographers: Ian Beesley at the University of Bolton. Peter is well known by many for his iconic imagery, documenting the anti-fracking protests in the North West over the last three-and-a-half years. The images will be published in a photo documentary book.
His images have been shared all over the world and have appeared in many magazines and online news journals.
Yankowski-Walker added: “I feel that unrestricted social documentary photography gives a balanced view of contemporary social history as it unfolds, a perspective that is essential to freedom of expression and democracy.”