Crossing the thin blue line

4 May


Crossing the lines.
A transition from the lines of the police, to the ranks of the british press.

Through the 1990’s I was a Police constable in the South Yorkshire Police Force. As well as the day to day community policing I was called upon to take my place in the thin blue line at a number of public order incidents including demonstrations. This inevitably put me in the front line and sometimes in contact with the press. Now I think its safe to say that at the time my attitude toward photographers and reporters was one of them being a necessary evil and to be avoided or removed from the scene when possible. I was subject to orders from above to prevent any of the press getting close to a scene and of course under no circumstances was I to speak to the press as this may have been construed as a statement and taken as policy so I was effectively gagged by my bosses. I often felt that the way to deal with these annoyances was to be intimidating and whilst never physically aggressive I could be very threatening in my manner and use of language. This was probably having a worse effect than physical violence in many ways. In 1999 I made a career move and joined the RAF as a police officer spending the next 11 years serving in the gulf and around the world. Carrying out just the same duties as I had as a civilian police officer but this time with the military discipline required and very often carrying and using a fire arm. Again I was brought into contact with the press as they transited in and out of war zones and whilst they did their job in theatre. Once again I was given to believe that these reporters were an annoying distraction and I was very dismissive of them and often obstructive.

Before going any further I think its right to point out that my opinions reflect the work we as photographers and journalists do in the legitimate public arena.

So you have got to be reading this and asking how on earth this guy ended up writing a piece for “I’m a photographer not a terrorist”? Well without going into to much detail I was medically discharged from the RAF and as part of that process I came to see that my attitudes and thinking and personal beliefs were contrary to the established thinking of the services and that I needed to regain my own views and opinions which had been repressed and shut away for almost 20 years. Thanks to a number of people and publications giving me my chance to get a break and get published I was to take a big step down the road to recovery by joining the NUJ and finding freedom to express myself.


I recently discovered how threatening it must have been to face me at an accident on the streets of Lincoln UK when I was faced with a police officer at the scene of an incident I had intended to cover. I say intended as it became very clear very quickly that I was not going to get the pictures I needed to cover the story of a road accident. I had arrived after the people involved had been transported to hospital and the forensic examination was underway whilst the vehicle’s involved where still in situ. I approached the scene and snapped a couple of wide establishing shots then moved closer, remaining on the pavement which was not closed or restricted and along with other members of the public looked on at the scene. A couple of people had, of course taken out their camera phones and were snapping away. The very moment I raised my Nikon Pro camera a PC indicated to his Sgt and I was approached by the Sgt. I of course identified myself as a member of the press and a conversation began which basically involved the Sgt telling me that should any of these pictures be published ANYWHERE on the net or in a paper that I would be visited and I would be made to explain to the grieving family why distressing pictures had been published. So I was made to feel emotionally blackmailed and whilst there was no attempt to confiscate my camera or images this course of action was far more effective for the officer than any kind of physical assault. When I reviewed this incident whilst writing this I can recognise a lot of the actions I had taken in my previous life and having now had a sample of my own medicine I can tell you its horrid. I had gone into my journalistic photography with a thought that my previous police and military experience would be an advantage when covering stories. I have soon come to realise that how I did my previous job and how I was expected to do that job goes totally against the rights and freedoms that we have come to expect in our society. I have gone on to cover stories and I was even photographing the recent student protest in parliament square from within the police lines and photographing into the student protestors from the view of the police. My experience of police tactics was invaluable for staying safe in that situation but I still had the feeling that I was in the way, a distraction & an annoyance.


So I write as a photographer who has been on the thin blue line but couldn’t continue with the restrictions, the suppressing of views and opinions, the intimidating of the press and the continued aggression in public spaces. I write as a journalist who has a view, who has an opinion, who see’s injustice and intimidation on our streets and has felt its touch whilst out in the public arena. I fully support what this group of professional photographers and news gathers stand for and are striving to achieve.


Extradition of Gary McKinnon letter

30 Apr

Here’s an email that I wrote objecting to the extradition of Gary McKinnon. If you aren’t aware of his case then here is a link with more information,

So first is the email I sent….

Apr 27 22:31 (BST):
For the Urgent Attention of David Cameron, Theresa May, Nick Clegg, Dominic Grieve:

Name: Alan Taylor-Shearer
Postcode: Pe32 1qf
Message: re. Gary McKinnon

I oppose the Extradition of Gary McKinnon who both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems promised to help while in opposition.
David Cameron has publicly raised Gary McKinnons case twice with President Obama. Gordon Brown raised it previously with Hilary Clinton and the American Ambassador. Nick Clegg campaigned for Gary via the media and outside the Home Office shoulder to shoulder with Garys mother Janis Sharp.
It is clear our politicians want Gary McKinnon tried in the U.K, so our Government must have the strength to stand up for its own citizens just as America, France and Ireland stand up for theirs.
Our Government must have the courage to make their own decisions without having to have the permission of a foreign Government, or our sovereignty is lost.

As Lord Justice Stanley Burnton said in his Judgement of July 2009 at paragraph 76 of his Judgement:
– I propose to assume therefore, that this is not a case in which the only possible prosecution of Mr. McKinnon would be in the USA. The USA may be the preferable forum, but not the only forum. –
Lord Justice Stanley Burnton further recognised that the possibility of prosecution here in the U.K. was relevant….

Theresa May CAN therefore decide in her Quasi Judicial role, that, in her Judgement, the preferred choice of venue for trial in the case of Gary McKinnon is in the U.K and NOT in America. (It is clear to all that this is the only logical choice)

In its report of March 2012, the Home Affairs Select Committee demanded immediate action by the UK government to stop further unjust extraditions to the US. Similar action was demanded by the JCHR (Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights) in April 2011, yet we still await the amendments to the legislation promised by the Conservative leaders and the Lib Dem leaders.

The debate on Extradition that took place in the House of Commons on December the 5th 2011 was passed unanimously by all political parties who are demanding that our current Extradition Treaty with the U.S is changed to include a new Forum amendment and to ensure that evidence is provided that can be contested by the accused in a British court.

It is time for the government to act, by introducing Forum and bringing forward an Extradition Amendments Bill in the Queens Speech in May.

Please do not respond to this email with a stock answer listing unproven US allegations against Gary McKinnon, when in his Judicial Review against the Crown Prosecution Service in the High Court in 2009 the CPS admitted that they had received no evidence whatsoever from the U.S of any extraditable offence.
Gary McKinnons extradition was approved by the courts despite knowing this and despite Justice Stanley Burnton stating that there was a choice of venue for trial in Gary\’s case and that he could be tried in the U.K.

It is clear to the British public that as Gary who has Asperger\’s Syndrome and related mental health issues could be tried here, he should be tried here, as agreed by the Ex police officer in charge of the High Tech Crime Unit who arrested Gary in 2002.
Gary McKinnon has never left the UK and has been here at all times and as David Cameron said pre-election; if he has a case to answer, it should be answered here in the U.K.

Gary McKinnon has always denied the alleged damage needed to make his crime extraditable. The British Police told Gary he was looking at six months community service but after the CPS were instructed from ..the very top.., the CPS outsourced Garys case to America who informed him he was facing a possible sentence of sixty years (Ten years per Count).

The U.S and the U.K authorities allowed Gary to remain connected to the internet for a further three and a half years after he was arrested in 2002, proving that both the U.S and the U.K authorities regarded Gary as no threat whatsoever. Gary did not abuse this trust.
This extra-territorial reach of the US prosecutors should not be facilitated by our Government when it is clear that any trial can and should take place in the U.K.

Please amend the Extradition Act to include a new forum amendment without delay and ensure that Gary McKinnon, and those in a similar position, can have their cases heard in the UK.
The government promised pre-election to do this.

A forum amendment ensuring that offences committed while the accused is physically in the UK, can automatically be tried in the UK, can be brought into force without waiting for any changes to be made to the 2003 Extradition Treaty which was not ratified by the U.S until 2007.
Americans are automatically tried in their own country if they were physically in the U.S when the offence occurred.
Our Government must act now before yet another British injustice occurs.

There is more than enough Medical Evidence for the British Government to refuse to extradite Gary McKinnon, in the same way as they refused to extradite Mrs Tollman, an American citizen whos Extradition to America was refused in 2006.
Gary McKinnon has lifelong Aspergers Syndrome and significantly more mental health issues than Mrs Tollman had, plus a history of serious mental illness that spans three generations of Garys family.

Alan Taylor-Shearer

… And now the reply I have had from Nick Cleggs office…

Correspondence Assistant, Apr 30 10:09 (BST):
Dear Sir / Madam,

Thank you for contacting Nick Clegg MP regarding the extradition of Gary McKinnon. I am replying on Nick’s behalf.

Nick quite understands the strength of feeling that Mr McKinnon’s case has generated. However, it would not be appropriate for Nick, in his role as Deputy Prime Minister, to comment further on this specific case. It is the responsibility of the Home Secretary to decide on individual extradition cases.

However, you may be aware that Nick has long had a strong interest in the issue of extradition more broadly. Following the Extradition Review in October 2011, Nick and the Liberal Democrats raised a number of concerns regarding Lord Baker’s conclusions about the standard of proof needed to extradite people between Britain and America, and therefore believed that a second opinion was required.

In light of this, Nick asked Sir Menzies Campbell QC MP to set up and chair a panel to examine the issue of extradition between Britain and the United States. Other Liberal Democrats with an interest in the workings of the UK-US extradition will also serve on the panel. The panel will examine the specific issue of the difference between “probable cause” and “reasonable suspicion” (the Baker Review having concluded that there is no substantial difference between them) and will also consider practical solutions to correct any imbalances. The findings will be released at a later date.

Thank you once again for making Nick aware of your concerns on this matter.

Best wishes,

Rory Belcher
Office of Nick Clegg MP

Make of that what you will, but here is the same Nick Clegg who cant comment stood next to Gary’s mother Janis&nick

Personally I think he (Nick Clegg) is dodging the issue because it would stand against his master Dave Cameron. Make of that what you will.

The Vax Ad

7 Mar
  1. Share
    I am angry. This is blatant sexism. Where would HE mop up after his wife?? #vax
  2. I was quite happily watching a spot of family TV this evening, when without warning I was subject to the following ad.
  3. Share
  4. How dare they?!? The only assumption that can be taken from the imagery & voice over timing is that this woman’s husband has a poor aim when visiting the toilet. Now I’m not the only one to spot this….
  5. Share
    I like how the vax steam cleaner strongly hints that guys pee all over the bathroom floor…. That’s sexist right?
  6. Share
    The vax steam cleaner advert is lame. Yeah clean up after your husband, fuck that shit. He can clean his own piss up from around the toilet.
  7. A couple of other tweets there that show that it’s caught the attention of at least a few others on twitter. Was that your intention Vax? If so its worked. I wonder what the reaction would be if this were reversed in some way? Will it get make up out of a carpet? What about sick after a hen night? It’s like that diet coke ad, you know all the girls in the office ogling the young bloke whilst they drink diet coke. I often wonder what kind of explosion there would be if we saw 3 blokes drinking coke ogling a young woman with her top off!! Questions I am asking myself all the time so this really prompted me to write about the inequalities in British advertising. I’m sure I will write again about this because it won’t stop…. Blokes will always be the butt of the joke in advertising it seems.
  8. Share

News from the British Transport Police

2 Mar

The following is taken directly from The British Transport Police.

Company MD must pay back £1.9m following fraud conviction

A company managing director has been ordered to pay back £1.9m following a confiscation hearing at Woolwich Crown Court.

Peter Sale, 51, of Forest Drive, Tadworth, Surrey and MD of Sale Service & Maintenance Ltd, pleaded guilty to fraud and corruption in April last year. He was given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to do 400 hours unpaid work and pay costs. Now, he must pay back £1.9m within six months or face six years in prison.

The order, made at Woolwich Crown Court on Tuesday, 28 February, is the culmination of a three-and-a-half year investigation by BTP’s Economic Crime Unit (ECU).

“This was part of a complex corruption investigation involving six suspects and we were greatly helped by Network Rail’s own internal investigators,” explained ECU Detective Constable Justin Yorke.

“This type of offence by-passes the procurement system and has a negative impact on legitimate companies. Hopefully, the high value of this order will act as a deterrent to others.”

In January 2006, Anthony Burgess, a personal friend of Peter Sale, became the Corporate Offices Manager at Network Rail. Within a short period, Peter Sale’s company was used on a large number of Network Rail projects, resulting in personal gain.

Peter Sale also paid Anthony Burgess over £6,700 via a company account, fitted a de-humidifier in his garage and provided him with bathroom accessories and hotel accommodation. In return, Anthony Burgess disclosed confidential information during a tendering process.

The two were also suspected of committing fraud by false representation. In August 2007, Peter Sale submitted a duplicate invoice to Network Rail, the original having already been paid. There followed an email exchange during which Anthony Burgess suggested the proceeds would be used to buy Peter Sale a Porsche. An email featuring an advertisement for a Porsche 911 valued at £50,995 sent by Anthony Burgess said: “Just thinking of you.”

The investigation established that Peter Sale had indeed bought the Porsche. He was arrested in October 2008 and a search of his home found a number of documents, relating to the duplicate invoice and Porsche, hidden inside a freezer.

The confiscation order was for £1,918,562.44. It may be appealed.

A series of trials finished in December 2011 with two convictions out of the five people charged – Peter Sale and Anthony Whittington. In August 2011, Anthony Whittington, a director of building consultancy firm WWP Consultants Limited, was convicted by a jury of corruption by providing a Network Rail employee with trips to New York, Monaco and Rome and a cheque for £7,500 as an inducement to show favour to his business. He was sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment.

In April 2011, Peter Sale pleaded guilty to offences of corruption and fraud. He received the following sentence:

For corruption – 12 months’ imprisonment suspended for two years
For fraud – Six months’ imprisonment suspended for two years
A total of 400 hours unpaid work
Costs of £7,798

Danger on the rails

13 Feb
10 Feb 2012 09:38
Police warning after train strikes trolley ‘deliberately placed on tracks’ in Mansfield

British Transport Police (BTP) is appealing for information after a train struck a shopping trolley believed to be deliberately placed on the rail line in Mansfield last week.

PC Richard Bailey, investigating officer, said how the train struck the trolley on Wednesday, 1 February:

“The incident happened close to the footbridge next to Princes Street, Mansfield, and it’s believed those responsible threw the trolley on to the line sometime between 9.40pm and 10.10pm.

“The Worksop to Nottingham service which struck the trolley wasn’t badly damaged however the removal of the trolley from the track caused unnecessary delays.”

Officers are conducting several lines of enquiry including house to house visits in the local area and advising residents of the dangers of this type of malicious crime.

PC Bailey added: “This mindless act of vandalism could have been a lot worse, causing injuries or even worse.

“Although this may seem like fun to those who continue to play, what they don’t realise are the dangerous implications of this.

“Behaviour like this is incredibly risky and can result in dire consequences. The railway is an extremely dangerous environment that should never be considered as somewhere to hang out.”

Richard Pedley, Community Safety Manager for Network Rail, added: “Actions like these are totally reckless. The railway is a potentially dangerous environment for anyone who is not trained to be there. Passengers on the train could have been injured and were delayed and inconvenienced through this thoughtless behaviour.

“We work closely with local communities to address anti-social behaviour such as this and to stress its potentially life-threatening consequences.”

If you have information about the incident – or those responsible – please ring British Transport Police on Freefone 0800 40 50 40 quoting background referenceB13/NEA of 09/02/2012 or call the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.


09 Feb 2012 15:…

13 Feb
09 Feb 2012 15:24
£1,000 reward after vandals put bin on tracks near Stoke-on-Trent

Northern Rail is offering a reward of £1,000 to catch vandals after a train struck a large metal bin in the area of Harecastle Tunnel, Kidsgrove, Stoke-on-Trent on Tuesday, 7 February.

The incident was reported by the driver of the 2048 hours Manchester to Stoke train just before 9.50pm.

Two passengers were on the train but there were no injuries to anyone on board. However the driver was shaken by the experience and the train was taken out of service.

“The train was travelling at around 70mph when it struck the metal bin,” said Detective Inspector Steve Lewis.

“The bin caused a good deal of damage and completely disabled the train. We believe this was a deliberate act of vandalism that could have had much more tragic consequences.”

Gemma Colley, Public Relations Manager for Northern Rail, said: “We are relieved neither our passengers or crew were injured by this act of mindless vandalism and we were able to move our passengers onto an alternative service within half an hour of the event taking place. We will work closely with British Transport Police to identify those responsible and urge anyone with any information to come forward before this happens again.”

The passengers were transferred to another service and the train was eventually recovered shortly before 2am. Whilst recovery took place, trains were diverted and a number of trains were delayed.

The reward is being offered for information leading to the identification and conviction of those responsible. Anyone with information can contact British Transport Police on 0800 405040 quoting reference B14/NWA of 9/02/12 or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

Glyn Hellam
British Transport Police – North Western Area
t:0161 200 8362

For the latest news, updates and insight, follow BTP on Twitter: @btp_uk.

British Transport Police is the specialist, national police service for Britain’s railways. BTP deals with major and minor crime, disorder and incidents, and covers the rail system in England, Wales and Scotland, including London Underground, Docklands Light Railway, the Glasgow Subway and the Midland Metro and Croydon Tramlink systems. Its 2,914 police officers, 322 Police Community Support Officers, 190 Special Constables and 1,316 support staff are recruited and trained like those of local forces and have the same powers. Find out more at

The North Western Area of British Transport Police covers the National Rail system throughout the north west from Stoke to the Scottish border. It employs 269 police officers, 34 Police Community Support Officers, five Special Constables and 55 support staff.

A gig of two halves

14 Dec

So last night, Tuesday 13 December 2011, I took myself and my two oldest sons all the way to our home town of Sheffield to the Motorpoint arena to see three bands. Two of them where classic 80’s bands motley Crüe & Def leopard. They where to be joined as support By a new band called steel panther who have taken the term “cock rock” to the limit. They looked like hair metal bands did back in the 80s. They where great awesome and a lot of fun. They didn’t have all the bells & whistles of video and pyrotechnics of their older siblings. We totally enjoyed their set even if the use of swears was a bit excessive.

Then we move reluctantly on to motley Crüe. Let me start by saying that I was expecting a real good show. I was left wanting. The gimmic of Tommie Lee’s drum kit being able to revolve through 360 degrees through the vertical during his drum solo lasted a few minutes and looked great, but that that was it. It looked good for a few minutes then got boring and predictable.  the rest of the Crüe set was a mish mash of stuff you would have to be a real hard core fan to even recognise. Girls girls girls popped up at the end of the show but by then we had had enough and wanted to see the back of the Crüe. You may just make out my words of disgust as I was told to get back into my seat YET again by the arena staff.

Def leopard did not disappoint at all from the very start of the set to the encore. Cranking out hit after hit intermixed with new material. The whole place was jumping, as long as you weren’t sat in out seats that is. Every time I stood to actually enjoy the music and get into the gig I was quickly told in no uncertain terms to return to my seat and to sit there, to keep the gang ways clear. Now I’m not sure if the staff at the Motorpoint arena have ever been involved in a rock gig but take it from me it’s not common practice to sit and clap along to the music. When you have paid £70 to see a gig you want £70’s worth of enjoyment. They totally ruined this gig for me and the boys. The ‘seating police’ where on top form patrolling even up in the nose bleeders. So frankly I’m fairly sure I won’t be going to see a band there again, that defiantly applies to MC who were frankly shite.

The whole experience was then topped off by the requirement for some greasy rock n roll snack food, so we headed over to the KFC just across the road from the arena. First off they had locked the front doors and were expecting customers on foot to order via the drive through! Yeah we arrived in the car to see two girls stood shivering at the drive through mic trying to order 2 lots of chips. That took 5 mins! Then the staff wanted me to drive to the window to pay for the girls chips!  When I finally convinced them that I wasn’t with these girls they attempted to take my order. I finally go them to accept the fact that I wanted three meals and not two, with drinks and not without then they wanted for £20 from me for the privilege. I was then left waiting and waiting and waiting whilst they tried to give the two previous two girls their two portions of chips.  I had totally had enough by now so I drove to the window and told the staff to stuff their chicken where the sun don’t shine and I cancelled the order, they wanted to know why??? I told them, they hadn’t even managed to get any of my order right and the fact that they couldn’t even serve the people stood shivering outside In the cold due to the locked doors was stupidity of the highest order. Frankly the arena needs to try and give its staff some training, KFC need to get some more staff and motley Crüe need to go and hide in a very small box and never come out, ever again.