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Npower places injunction on EPUK member covering environmental protest

16 February 2007 - EPUK

Two solicitors and four black clad security guards working for Npower have served a high court injunction on a working press photographer covering the energy company’s controversial activities at an Oxfordshire beauty spot.

Energy giant npower has placed an injunction upon a EPUK member photographing the alleged dumping of waste fuel ash into an Oxfordshire beauty spot.

The Radley Lakes have seen increasing protests over recent weeks over allegations that Npower is dumping power station ash in the lakes which are home to protected species such as otters and kingfishers.

Adrian Arbib, a professional photographer and EPUK member based in Oxford, was handed the injunction on Thursday by two solicitors and four black clad security guards wearing high visibility waistcoats and with their faces covered by what appear to be either scarves or semi-balaclavas. You can read the full injunction here

Arbib is approached by a solicitor flanked by security guards. While this footage was shot before Arbib was served with the injunction, we have pixelated the solicitor’s face.

The security guards are understood to have been provided by private security company Shercurity, although npower appeared reluctant to confirm this.

Experienced photographer

At the time Arbib, an experienced photographer who has covered protests like these for seventeen years, who was covering the protests for the Guardian and BBC Wildlife, was standing on public property, having just photographed trees in the park being cut down at the park by npower contractors.

As the security guards approach, he can be heard on the video soundtrack reassuring them: “I’ve no interest in taking pictures of you guys, alright ? None whatsoever.”

During the incident, which was recorded by Arbib on video, the solicitors repeatedly refused to say who they were working on behalf of.

In the clip, the security guards are seen videoing the serving of the injunctions.

Arbib told EPUK: “I have been covering these protests for some time now, so I know the security guards were unlikely to lay a finger on me. But had I been younger or less experienced, I would have found it an intimidating experience”.

Despite Arbib identifying himself as a press photographer, and producing his NUJ press card, the solicitors refused to comment further, repeating that he should refer to the terms of the injunction. Shortly after Arbib was told to stop filming, which he agreed to do.

Arbib produces his press card while being filmed by the Npower security guards

The injunction, which initially runs for two months, orders both six named protesters and “those acting in concert with the protesters” to not photograph or video “protected persons or their vehicles”

“Nothing to do with the press”

When initially contacted by EPUK, npower said that the injunction only applied to protesters, and not bona fide press photographers.

“This is nothing to do with the press”, said a spokesperson. “ This is to do with the named persons on that injunction. It is not intended to bind the media in any shape or form”

However, when pressed to explain why a credentialled press photographer had been served with an injunction by their solicitor, npower said: “The injunction does not stop media reporting. It is just designed to prevent any details being published (photos and personal details) which might lead to the identification of individuals working at the site.”

However, this would appear to contradict the wording of the injunction, which prevents “the Protesters….photographing or videoing the Protected Persons”. Earlier in the injunction, the term “protesters” is defined to include “any person who has been given notice of the terms of this Order”.

Indeed it is difficult to imagine how npower could not “restrict media reporting” since Arbib or any other photographers served with the injunction will now not be allowed to photograph any of the company’s activities at the site.

Arbib is served with the injunction

It was not possible at the time of going to press to ask Npower why their explanation appeared not to match the wording of the injunction, and it was unclear at the time of going to press whether the security guards will interpret this as a blanket ban on photography at the site.

Security guards “masked for own protection”

Today, npower claimed the security guards obscured their faces “for their own protection”. A spokesperson claimed: “It may look intimidating, but they have the right to protect their identity.”

However, the two solicitors made no attempt to hide their identity, and did not appear to feel threatened by Arbib.

The same spokeperson alleged that workers at the site have been “harassed by protesters taking pictures and number plates and threatening to find out where people live, in a very menacing manner”.

Npower had lodged fifteen witness statements in court alleging harassment of its employees and contractors.

“This is a serious case of protecting our property, protecting the people who work for us, and making sure they are not subject to harassment”, she said.

However, she made it clear that professional news photographers had never been involved in any such activity.

Want to contact the EPUK Website editor? editor@epuk.org


Best of luck, Adrian.

Comment 1: Graham Harrison, 17 February 2007, 10:23 am

Great work with getting pics of this and dealing with it at the same time. Wishing you all the best on this one.

Comment 2: Marc Vallee, 17 February 2007, 04:19 pm

would be good to raise this incident at the NUJ photographers conference next week in london. All rather worrying. I was thinking of visiting the lakes to get some photos but will have to think about the implications of this injunction now.

Comment 3: ben, 17 February 2007, 10:33 pm

..but surely there are HUGE implications here under the copyright act, about freedom to shoot anything you like from a public place / road? How DARE they assume the role of God when they are plainly up to no good? Am I right in thinking that if you do not accept (ie touch, pick up) the injunction, then it has not in fact been issued to/served upon you?
Good luck, and may many more local PRESS photgraphers turn up and shoot as much and as often as they can – it’s OUTRAGEOUS!

Comment 4: Nick Meers, 18 February 2007, 11:05 am

Thanks for the support.
On Sat. 17th feb there was a demo by local residents where I was told by N power spokesman Leon Flexman that the injunction does apply to press photographers taking pictures of contractors on site regardless of whether it’s in the public interest or not. Since there are potentially illegal works being done
such as tree felling and otter and kingfisher habitat destruction then one wonders about the implications of this.
Due to the numbers of locals present on Saturday the injuncton wasn’t enforced ( ie there aren’t enough cells in the local Abingdon nick to cope with the numbers) however on a quiet weekday things might change.

Comment 5: Adrian Arbib, 18 February 2007, 01:29 pm

To all you pro photographers, please visit whether or not you have your press passes. This injunction was served on 6 people but in addition is “distributed” to anyone who reads it – so don’t read the notices on the fence. It is draconian and totally unnecessary. I don’t know fifteen people who would make theats to those Goons – there was probably some comment towards them but that was provoked by their threatening behaviour from day 1. We need the press to pick up on this story. It is an infringement of all our liberties and the thin end of a wedge which will be used again by Corporate Entities who don’t want their activities to be recorded!

Comment 6: Gemini, 18 February 2007, 06:09 pm

There is a road off Audlett Drive called Barton Lane. Go down to the end of Barton Lane and you are at the public footpath which goes round the Thrupp Lake . Views of the islands can be seen. The securiy concentrate their efforts at Sandles, Thrupp Lane, so it is possible to take photos from this other end without being harrassed. Work has been starting at 8am. Good luck.

Comment 7: fairy, 18 February 2007, 11:54 pm

Just a thought guys but how many photographers are there in your area who could en masse turn up to photograph the situation, even just one session per week? Together with local Radio & TV coverage you’d surely get national press over this? Safety in numbers would also mean a complete breakdown of their enforcement? Just initial thoughts?

Comment 8: Glyn, 19 February 2007, 09:22 am

I’m retired now, and disabled, but you can add my name to any action you think might help you in this outrageous incident. Just who do these little Hitlers think they’re dealing with? They must not be allowed to get away with it.

Comment 9: Harry Bernard-Smith, 19 February 2007, 10:50 am

Do hoodies now get to serve ASBO’s on CCTV, to safeguard their identity whilst committing allegedly illegal acts on public property?

This is insane and dangerous and merits saturation reporting.

Comment 10: Tony Sleep, 19 February 2007, 02:49 pm

Is there any reason why Adrian or any other injuncted journalist should not sell or give away their rights in the film & stills to someone outside the jurisdiction of the court. They could then use it as they saw fit.

David Hoffman

Comment 11: David Hoffman, 19 February 2007, 04:03 pm

Outragious. I was under the impression that you had to be a named person on an injunction. Is this the case?

Comment 12: Simon, 19 February 2007, 04:12 pm

I’ve just read today’s Oxford Mail and they have managed to get the “Witness Statements”. One of them says he was a Soldier – presumably in Ulster – and we know what tricks they got up to over there. How on earth Mr Justice Whateverhisname is came to give this injunction is a mystery, but there is something very wrong when people can be accused of issuing threats, when no complaint has been made to the Police, who would normally be the organisation to approach, and then be subjected to a Draconian High Court Injunction issued under some pretext which has not been proved in a court of law and for which remedy there is only an expensive route, via the legal profession, to remove the slur which has been made on one of those named, whom I know, and is a law-abiding upstanding member of the community.
Another mass protest is called for, complete with cameras and video recorders. And Where are the National Press. This is an infringement of their Liberty to report. Come on Editors – what happened to “Publish and be Damned”

Comment 13: lakesaver, 19 February 2007, 04:13 pm

The Injunction applies to anyone that sees it. So if i email it you, you have been served.

It states a protestor shall mean
4.3 Any person who has been given notice of the terms. ie You.

Then it goes on to state
6.2 photographing or videoing protected persons (Npower employees)

This is regardless of whether they are doing something that is potentially illegal, which they are; cutting trees down whilst the Lake and surrounds is undergoing a town green application

the next para states 6.3 publishing by any means whatsoever names..photographs…or any other material serving to identify a Protected person.

Well there we go then…that’d be freedom of the press stamped on

Comment 14: Adrian Arbib, 20 February 2007, 02:31 pm

The full text of the injunction given to Adrian and others can now be seen here

Comment 15: The EPUK Website Editor, 20 February 2007, 03:19 pm

A protestor named ‘Ant’ nearly died in police custody last week after sustaining multiple fractures of his arm – a fracture of his humerus severed an artery and he nearly bled to death. Why is this not being reported? The flyash is a highly toxic waste. The local press refuse to use the word toxic so the public are not being informed of the true danger flyash poses. Ant was detained my Npower’s masked thugs whilst attempting to prevent deliberate disturbance to a European Protected Species – a kingfisher and nest hole. He was thus acting to prevent a breach of wildlife legislation for which Npower could be prosecuted. Ironically, the police arrived and arrested him instead.

Comment 16: Bob Eeles, 20 February 2007, 08:34 pm

In answer to Qs, injunctions can apply to unnamed persons; if you (admit) to reading injunction on this website, or anywhere else, then it’s been served on you. You have to be served it for it to apply, hence them videoing serving it on Adrian.

Comment 17: FF, 21 February 2007, 11:34 am

Just followed a link in here from the Amateur Photographer website – I’m minded to take my camera down there and see what happens, despite having no professional reason to do so. I do like photographing wildlife and I understand there are kingfishers and otters in that area…?

Comment 18: curious, 21 February 2007, 01:39 pm

This is exactly the sort of activity and paranoia against photographers I am campaining about. It seems a little mis-information may have swayed the judge to allow such an injunction against basic rights we have as UK citizens.

Comment 19: Simon Taylor, 21 February 2007, 02:59 pm

This stuff makes my blood boil, I may consider going off to make images, if i get arrested count me as a prisoner of concience. What utter rubbish this is. welcome to stalins britain, through the back door.

Comment 20: ian, 21 February 2007, 03:27 pm

A totally outrageous decision to which a legal challenge should be mounted by both journalists organisations and media companies. Will the Oxford Mail lead the way? Well done Adrian for bringing this to out. Good Luck.

Comment 21: Simon Chapman, 21 February 2007, 05:46 pm

I went back this afternoon to photograph, on a nod from the Guardian and others . A part of the story i wanted to get was trees being felled – showing the contrast of before and after.
Earlier I had spoken to N power PR who told me the injunction didn’t apply to press photographers.
Aware of the injunction and not wanting to take the piss out of N power I took pictures of trees being felled from afar taking care not to identify individuals (as the injuncition states). The security confronted me, and in a polite conversation i told them that N power had said it was ok and that this was being reconsidered, furthermore other indications pointed to allowing the press to ‘carry on’ within reason. N power PR rang me almost immediately, fairly pissed off that I’d dragged them back into the whole affair. Apparently I should have called Leon Flexman their PR guy first to get permission.
So call if you are going there for god’s sake call Leon first to get clearance mb 07989 493320 leon.flexman@npower.com

Comment 22: adrian arbib, 22 February 2007, 01:32 am

Will the Oxford Mail lead the way? Sadly not – it would be difficult to imagine a more gutless bunch of journalists. I’ve seen village church newsletters with more bite than the Mail. They have failed to investigate or report the circumstances in which the ‘Ant’ suffered severe injuries – for what reasons I don’t know, but I’d guess sheer cowardice.

Comment 23: Tarbatt, 22 February 2007, 11:52 pm

The Oxford Mail and Times seem to have some tie up with NPower – the Radley Lakes issue rarely gets into the Oxford Times, instead it is featured in the smaller circ Abingdon Herald. When you look at the Times, it is all about the City of Oxford trivia. They don’t like to upset their advertisers and any contentious issue it doesn’t get houseroom. There are no fearless news editors any more, and that goes for the BBC and ITV as well.

Comment 24: Lakesaver, 24 February 2007, 12:49 am

Sadly there is going to be more like this – where’s my cammo!

Comment 25: Stoker, 4 March 2007, 10:17 pm

Having surfed here, almost accidentally, starting from the Guardian, I’m now outraged, and have this insane wish to drive 250 miles to try and photograph kingfishers.

Comment 26: 55North, 6 March 2007, 03:48 am

Why doesn’t someone local contact the council’s Tree Preservation Officer? he has an obligation to post TPO’s on any tree that affects wildlife that is protected. Use the law to counter the misuse of law. Time for a mass rally?

Comment 27: flintwall, 6 March 2007, 01:22 pm

There is a march to protest on Sat March 10th, from 12.30. It seems that the official march will avoid Radley lakes, but it is expected a group will proceed to Radley later. Will be interested to see if photographers are targeted.
See http://www.saveradleylakes.org.uk/ProtestWalk.htm

Comment 28: NickB, 6 March 2007, 05:23 pm

Correction to the above; the march goes to the lakes.

Comment 29: NickB, 6 March 2007, 05:50 pm

Re. the council’s Tree Preservation Officer? he has an obligation to post TPO’s on any tree that affects wildlife that is protected. Use the law to counter the misuse of law


Comment 30: NickB, 6 March 2007, 06:18 pm

The Tree Preservation Officer was repeatedly approached by Save Radley Lakes to try to get protection orders issued for some of the trees. There were several specimen trees, visible from the byway, that could have been protected. He simply made himself scarce and would not do anything. I wonder why.
Too late now…

Comment 31: Basil Crowley, 8 March 2007, 11:48 pm

N.Power seem to think that they have the right to a) do as they please and hang the public b) they can get the judicary(sp) to back them and stifle protest and c) that bully boy tactices are acceptable. When will the leaders of this benighted country realise that to get any respect they have to be seen to act for the public and not just the swine whose troughs their noses are in. Keep reporting the news and telling the truth! all powe to your elbow.

Comment 33: paul tiney, 20 March 2007, 08:31 pm

I have placed an article on my blog and I even feel intimidated

NPower should not see this as winning or losing and should not use the law in such a way. Their PR team should know that open debate will be more effective, even if the result is still the same.

They are heading for a PR disaster that could cost them clients


Comment 34: Rob, 22 March 2007, 09:50 am

Go and vote for Radley Lakes on the Government Petition website. petitions.pm.gov.uk/SaveRadleyLakes

An email will be sent to you which you have to open and click on the link in order to validate your vote.

Comment 35: Lakesaver, 23 March 2007, 11:08 pm

The High Court in London has confirmed the continuance of the injunction in its present form and the Judge asked for NPower to get together with the Injunctees (if that is the right word) to agree a wording suitable to both parties and return to court at a later date.

It seems the Judge had realised that Mr Lawson Crutchundone has a penchant for filling lever arch files with lots of blurb – some of it irrelevant and is not prepared to wade through it for several hours.

In other words, the Judge said “cut to the chase”.

I can testify to the time taken to read all NPower’s evidence, having looked at it, and found hundreds of pages of padding. In fact lots of it was drawn from the Save Radley Lakes Website, omitting certain pages which didn’t suit their case, of course. Does this reprinting breach copyright rules? as most pages contained photographs? It would be good to know if a counter-claim could be lodged.

The NPower Lawyers had failed to disclose the fact that there was a Town Green Application in Process. They told the Judge they didn’t know about the Town Green Application, yet in their bundle of “evidence” were the pages from the website showing the Town Green Public Meeting – which they were potraying a rabid protesters who were threatening NPower!

The fact that one Peter Harbour, a local resident and pillar of the community, remains listed on the injunction and stands to lose his home by standing against NPower to clear his name has escaped the power of the press.

This injunction is against all our enshrined rights to protest and to take photographs.

I wish I was wealthy enough to take on NPower but having worked all my life I too only own a house, which I share, and which I cannot risk on the altar of idealism.

Comment 36: Lakesaver, 26 April 2007, 07:30 pm

After a protracted Town Green inquiry the residents of Radley Village failed in their attempt to get the Lake listed. Lost i’m told on some obscure point of law or maybe this is a euphemism for ‘someone at Npower plays golf with the planning inspector’.

N power can now fill this beautiful place in with waste fuel ash; destroying a home to otters, kingfishers and quite few other protected species.

Waste fuel ash that could be made into building materials but N Power are too greedy and arrogant to care. Even the fact that they are listed as the ‘dirtiest’ electricity provider in consumer magazines doesn’t phase them.

for more info see: http://www.oxfordmail.net/search/display.var.1762569.0.radley_lakes_village_ green_decision.php

Comment 37: adrian, 18 October 2007, 07:06 am

This story is not surprising and typical of the skullduggery and canker that affects our society. It is very difficult to get Town or Village Green applications passed now, more so since Labour came to power. I tried and failed in 2001 to stop a refuse tip coming within 400 metres of our village school when the objectors put a top London QC – Frank Hinks – up against me when I was a humble Parish Councillor. The Inspector was a barrister as well and very chummy they were too.
It cost the bastards some money though that they were unable to recover from me.

Comment 38: David Murray, 24 June 2008, 11:16 pm

I think that this situation has got two main points witch contradict each other: the first one is the pollution of the lakes, the second one is the protection of the private life of the employees. The only solution is to find understanding.

Comment 39: Easton, 10 February 2009, 11:06 am

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