Topshop Legal Report

26th October, 2012

Topshop security guard. UK Uncut – Big Society Revenue and Customs, campaign for companies to pay tax. Oxford St, London © Jess Hurd/reportdigital.co.uk

This is a report from Roy Mincoff, NUJ Legal Officer who attended a meeting with Topshop’s Operations manager following an apology for an assault and ban of London Photographer’ Branch Chair Jess Hurd.

“Jess Hurd was manhandled, assaulted and detained when covering a protest at Topshop in Oxford Street. Jess rightly wanted an apology for the distress she suffered and withdrawal of a ban from her entering the store. She did not want legal action or damages for what had happened, preferring to use her time on her work and union commitments.

After initially ignoring representations from the union, further legal and public representations were made after which Jess and I met senior representatives of Arcadia group, the store owners. They apologised verbally and sent a written apology for publication. The ban on Jess was removed. Also, they welcomed input from the NUJ into ensuring their security personnel were aware of the rights of the media, to try to ensure that similar situations are not repeated.

Subsequently I met with the shop Operations manager and one of his team, explaining media rights, such as not to be assaulted or detained, not to have equipment or photographs seized and to be treated with respect whilst covering events, not forcibly ejected if asked and agreeing to leave.

Additionally, they would be pleased to contact the union should other  protests or events be known to be occurring so that union members could attend and report these. A suitable number would need to be supplied.

These events apparently rarely happen inside Topshop  though occasionally outside.

The shop is under no obligation to permit photographs inside but is willing to have NUJ photographers attend and would consider having an advance briefing if possible. Clearly the shop would want to know that those attending are genuine members of the media, working professionally, and are not protestors or ordinary members of the public. Production and preferably display of a UK Press Card or other internationally recognised one would assist in avoiding  difficulties, and is recommended. This also assists in police recognising genuine members of the media.

Topshop security staff will be informed of the rights of the media and will have a senior operative to refer to should difficulties arise. The Topshop  contractors in their various stores will similarly be informed and trained. The union is prepared to assist in that if needed, so that our members are better able to work without these problems.

Arcadia is aware that should there be breaches of the rights of the media in future, particularly having had these explained at a senior level, the company is at serious risk of legal action, which unsurprisingly it wishes to avoid.

The union will monitor this closely, and be prepared to take appropriate action should there be further incidents.”

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