Monday, 13 September 2010

Journalistic Freedom Trumped with Aid of Grampian Police

He may have his own reality TV show in the States but Donald Trump's manager at the Menie estate has been using police resources to stop scrutiny of his actions.

Two documentary film makers had been arrested and their equipment seized for five days when they were investigating claims that Trump's contractors had cut off the water supply to the local residents, including fierce critic of the project Michael Forbes. Although Paul O'Connor, Trumps manager agreed to be interviewed freely and no documents were filmed. The two, Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney, were arrested, DNA sampled and detained for four hours after the Trump organisation accused them of accessing their offices and filming documents without permission.

Paul Holleran, the NUJ's regional organiser in Scotland said:

"This is a blatant example of police interference aimed at stopping bona fide journalists from doing their job. Their footage shows they were asking very pertinent questions in a mannerly fashion as befits professional journalists. I believe this is a breach of human rights, and we are taking legal advice. I think this must be one of the first cases in this country of journalists being arrested for just carrying out interviews to establish the truth and hold people to account."

George Soriel, Trump's senior representative who you may recognise from The Apprentice, however said:

"I think it's entirely appropriate to call the police. We have a very good relationship with all the media. We genuinely have an open-door policy [but] it's not acceptable to have two people burst into an office unannounced."

An open-door policy! Looking at some of the past incidents regarding this development you have to wonder. Maybe it is just the cat flap that is open to those with the right electronic tag.

As it was the two were arrested while interviewing local resident Susie Monro, being asked to turn off the camera while carrying out an on camera interview by Grampian Police. Going about your journalistic duty to gather both sides of the story from willing participants appears to be a crime as far as Donald Trump is concerned. Of course the 5 day retention of equipment made this no longer a news story.

No comments:

Post a Comment