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Press 'censors' knock photographers out for the count

PUBLISHED: 14:46 02 May 2008 | UPDATED: 11:07 13 July 2010

CENSORS at Tower Hamlets council have once again banned press photographers from election counts, citing health and safety grounds, for the fourth election running. The Town Hall vetoed a request from the East London Advertiser to take wide-angled shots of the count for the by-elections for Bethnal Green’s Weavers ward and Millwall ward on the Isle of Dogs, which were being carried out at the Excel centre in neighbouring Newham. The ban contrasted with the London Assembly's City & East count in the same building, where journalists were given unrestricted access.

Advertiser Election Team

CENSORS at Tower Hamlets council have once again banned press photographers from election counts, citing health and safety grounds, for the fourth election running.

The Town Hall vetoed a request from the East London Advertiser to take wide-angled shots of the count for the by-elections for Bethnal Green’s Weavers ward and Millwall ward on the Isle of Dogs, which were being carried out at the Excel centre in neighbouring Newham.

The Advertiser was told that if it wanted pictures it would have to rely on a photographer from the council’s own freesheet, East End Life.

The ban contrasted with the London Assembly's City & East count in the same building, where journalists were given unrestricted access.

The paper complained to the authority, but was told by a Town Hall spokeswoman: “The size of the room is the problem—we can’t have too many people in here.”

The council also rejected requests for the photographers to take it in turns to go into the room.

Tower Hamlets council has a record of banning the press at election time.

It previously barred all photographers from the count at the Shadwell by-election last year, the Town Hall elections in 2006 and the General Election in 2005.

The journalists’ professional newspaper Press Gazette reported tonight: “Tower Hamlets council in East London banned press photographers from two by-election counts citing health and safety reasons and security concerns at the Excel centre in London’s Docklands.

“The Advertiser said the rooms were large enough, that the health and safety claim was a ’smokescreen’ for council fears that it would take the ’wrong’ kind of pictures.

“It accused council authorities of behaving like they were in an ’old Soviet republic.’

“A request for photographers to take turns at the count was also denied.

Kelly Rickard, from the council’s communications department, said the authority was following standard practice and had given the paper ’plenty of advance warning’ of the ban.”

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IS Tower Hamlets council wrong to keep barring the press from election counts time after time? Give us your view:

ela.editorial@archant.co.uk


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