Home | Friday 19th June 2009 | Issue 680
COPS, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE
AS SUSSEX POLICE RAID BRIGHTON FILM MAKER
Given the amount of aggro handed out to those brave enough to document Babylon’s excesses we wondered how long it was before we started getting our collars felt. Of course they’d need a task force to batter down the steel doors of the SchNEWS bunker - let alone take us alive - so Sussex Police took a more indirect route.
At approximately 8.30am on Tuesday 2nd June, Sussex cops arrived at the home of Paul Light, now revealed as one of the SchMOVIES collective. (For anyone thinking that SchNEWS was still stuck in the Dark Ages with just a scrappy sheet of A4, we’ve moved right into the twentieth century and have our own slightly estranged film-making department.) Paul’s arrest has wide ranging implications for anyone who reports on controversial issues.
When the cops came round Paul was getting his ten-year old son ready for school. He was immediately arrested on suspicion of being involved in the ‘decommissioning’ of the EDO ITT weapons factory in January (see SchNEWS 663). The actual charge was ‘conspiracy to commit criminal damage’.
This vague charge was enough for the police to launch into a full-blown fishing expedition.“The only evidence they [Sussex police] have is that someone phoned me, asking if I wanted to film the police response,” Paul told SchNEWS, “I said I couldn’t because I had my son and his friend sleeping over that night. That was the end of it as far as I was concerned. As a film maker I frequently get phone calls about possible incidents to film – this was one shoot I couldn’t and didn’t make.”
Paul was held and questioned for eight hours and his home was raided. The police took Paul’s son to school in a police car, where he burst into tears due to the stress. His father was released on bail and is awaiting the outcome of the arrest.
Police took every item that could possibly be used for data storage as evidence, including cameras, computers, external hard drives, software, mobile phones, personal accounts, diaries and even his music collection.“Put bluntly they have concocted this arrest to see what material I have,” said Paul, who regularly films at protests and demonstrations.
Police have recently attempted to use a film credited to SchMOVIES as evidence in court. The film ‘Batons and Bombs’ documents events at last year’s Carnival Against the Arms Trade (See SchNEWS 634) and was downloaded from the web by cops. They were refused its use as evidence in court on the grounds that the film was edited and they did not possess the original footage. The Crown Prosecution Service are currently appealing that decision via judicial review. The discovery of the original footage would greatly strengthen their hand.
“The raid has effectively shut me down and I am no longer able to make films,” said Paul. “Film work is my livelihood, so effectively they have put me on the dole.” Paul makes films about many different campaigns and issues, and the arrest and raid has been a major setback in his ability to earn a living.“They have left me with nothing,” he said, “I have three commissions in production at the moment and I have had to phone people up and tell them the news – that their films will have to be postponed indefinitely!”
* See www.schnews.org.uk/schmovies
* SchMOVIES is not new to controversy. The release of the 2008 film “On The Verge” (www.schnews.org.uk/schmovies/index-on-the-verge.htm), a documentary about the Smash EDO campaign was met with bans across the UK by various police forces, claiming the film would need certification to be publicly viewed (See SchNEWS 626).