By Socialist Worker photographer Guy Smallman
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‘I was arrested for the crime of journalism at Heathrow’

This article is over 4 years, 8 months old
Issue 2673
Guy Smallman (left) filming the Heathrow activists
Guy Smallman (left) filming the Heathrow activists (Pic: Heathrow Pause)

I was arrested on Wednesday for the crime of journalism, for upsetting the liars who rule society.

The decision by the Tories to worsen the climate emergency by increasing the capacity of Heathrow airport by over 260,000 flights a year has caused widespread anger among environmentalists and those who will inherit a ruined planet.

So activists have been targeting the airport with the group Heathrow Pause that aims to draw attention to their utterly indefensible expansion plans through peaceful direct action.

While the bosses’ tabloids have shrieked bloodcurdling headlines about “green extremists” endangering airliners and their passengers, the reality is very different as I discovered when I photographed and filmed one of their actions near the runways.

Those willing to risk their liberty by drawing attention to the lies of this government fly toy drones at head height within the 5 kilometre exclusion zone imposed around Heathrow and then announce their presence to the police. It is all part of their ongoing tactic of costing the authorities money by clogging up the legal system with cases that most people would never want to see their taxes wasted on.

The police moved in on activists
The police moved in on activists (Pic: Guy Smallman)

The protests are staged well away from the airport flight paths and the drones in question would have difficulty damaging a pigeon, let alone an aircraft.

As usual those police resources, that we are told are unavailable for tackling anti-social crime due to austerity, were not in short supply as over a dozen officers (including armed cops) swooped on three activists staging their symbolic demonstration outside the Heathrow perimeter.

However, I was surprised to find myself under arrest and detained alongside them for the crime of journalism. Not least because upon their arrival at the scene, the police had checked my credentials and accepted them, a decision that was later reversed without explanation.

As the Tories talk air pollution - who’s really flying us to disaster?
As the Tories talk air pollution – who’s really flying us to disaster?
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Sadly recent events including the legal victimisation of reporters covering the refugee crisis in Syria and historic events in Ireland suggest that this is not an isolated occurrence.

A free press should mean exactly that, no matter how embarrassing the resulting journalism is for the liars and hypocrites who run society for their own ends.

Spending many hours staring at the ceiling of a tiny cell was a sobering reminder of the plight of so many innocent people trapped on the wrong side of our legal system in far worse circumstances.

Fortunately my trade union and others sprung into action and ensured my quick release before things looked too bleak. A reminder that collective action remains our best weapon against state-sponsored injustice in all its forms.

I was released on Wednesday evening and am now looking forward even more to covering the climate strike on Friday.


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