London cops apologise to young photographer who was told that shooting Armed Forces Day parade was "anti-social," "gay," "stupid" and an offense under the Terrorism Act

Back in 2010, I blogged the video of Jules Mattsson, a 15-year-old freelance photographer who was stopped by police while shooting an Armed Forces Day parade in London. The police inspector took down his details, told him it was an offense under the Terrorism Act to take pictures of soldiers, told him that the police could stop public photography without recourse to any law, and then told him that photographing soldiers was "gay," "anti-social behaviour," "silly" and "stupid."

Finally, Mattsson has gotten justice: the police have paid him an undisclosed settlement and issued an apology.

"The inspector told [Jules] he was a public hazard and said that photographing in public was 'anti-social behaviour'," he said.

"He described the act of taking photographs as 'silly' and 'gay' and 'stupid'," said the spokesman.

"When [Jules] continued to state the lawfulness of his behaviour, the inspector declared it was 'dangerous' as he was 'likely to be trampled on by soldiers' from the parade."

Ms Cotton, head of the police misconduct department at the law firm, said: "The treatment of the police towards our client, a 15-year-old, was shocking. The inspector's comments were designed to belittle."

Metropolitan Police compensate parade-ban photographer


  1. Remind me again why I should not just turn my back on external reality, and focus only on lsd-25, booze, and my own art…

    1. Because the police state hasn’t been dismantled yet!

      As an authority-questioning type i’ve wondered what might happen if a large group of cops at a conference started to observe the walls melt.

      1. I have trouble envisioning a fat cop with imagination enough to laugh at it. But then I’m falling into the stereotypical-cop trap I suppose. Sigh.

  2. The more I listened the more I found myself becoming increasingly angry.

    The police acted like arses and when they were confronted by their behaviour they became increasingly more abusive and vicious.

    I am really of the opinion that they needed to be sacked. If they haven’t been then whomever investigated this should consider they’ve done only half a job.

    1. “The police acted like arses and when they were confronted by their behaviour they became increasingly more abusive and vicious.”

      With so many consistent stories across so many nations, it’s almost like a certain type is attracted to the work.

  3. I love it when justice is served in the end. It’s great that our societies still produce intelligent kids like this who know their rights and stand up for them.
    Goddamn it this police attitude we are seeing time and time again is the lowest form of life.

    1. I don’t know if a bribe is justice.

      Maybe if the cop was arrested or at least had his powers stripped, that might have been justice.

      But that would mean the police were accountable for their actions, and we can’t be having that now.

  4. >The inspector’s comments were designed to belittle.

    in other news:  sun rises in east.

    “C’mon, Dekkard, you know the score!  You ain’t cop, you’re little people!”


    Fight the power kid. Keep on until until you win, and you won. Thank you for fighting for the rights of free people every to remain free everywhere. 

    The nations were the people are oppressed have no chance if the citizens of the nations where people are free will not fight to preserve their rights.  Fight on, dude fight on. Hope you become an MP down the road.

    Went out to the burbs to have dinner with my parents this afternoon. My mom asked me whether Occupy was against the corporations or the government, as the #D12 Houston effort was primarily against the Port Authority CEO more than about the economic effects. “If there were a more clear distinction between corporations and the government, I doubt the movement would even exist.”

    1. Hope you become an MP down the road.

      I really hope he does not. The system can corrupt even the best of people much faster than those people can reform the system. At the point we are now, we’re never going to see change from within.

      1. I, too, hope not. Like mdhatter‘s comment above:

        With so many consistent stories across so many nations, it’s almost like a certain type is attracted to the work.

        Otherwise commonly expressed as the (pointedly) vacuous the sort of person who wants to be a police officer is the sort of person who wants to be a police officer, one may substitute MP without much of a jolt.

        1. “I don’t care to belong to a club that accepts people like me as members.” – Groucho Marx

          Future police enrolment policy?

    2. Thank you for fighting for the rights of free people every to remain free everywhere.

      Yay‘n’all that.
      But don’t you feel that this isn’t a war that can be won, but that every day we have to keep fighting the same battles over and over again?

      Just sayin’. It’s great if you don’t feel that.

      Though sometimes I feel we’d be better off getting frozen and waking up when our hominid authoritarian ape species has evolved into something decent. How long for that, I wonder.

      1. No, it’s not a war that can be “won”. Eternal Vigilance and all that.

        But you must remember, my fellow-citizens, that eternal vigilance by the people is the price of liberty, and that you must pay the price if you wish to secure the blessing.  It behooves you, therefore, to be watchful in your States as well as in the Federal Government. –Andrew Jackson, Farewell Address

        1. Now you’ve just depressed me. If you truly believe in this ‘eternal vigilance’ deal and don’t think evolution will finally eradicate this kind of behaviour then there’s nothing much to look forward to.

          Except possibly the iDonut.

          1. Yes, really.

            Betterment comes through struggle, either internal or external, and it always has done (tired, though you may become).

            See also, the chronicles of the HMS Beagle.

  6. No, it’s just that a certain type produce stories like this. One can only hope the many police forces around the world work quickly to eject this type when they show themselves. That is the step we have not seen so much of recently.

    1. Not sure they can even be 12 – 11, maybe, but even that’s pushing it.

      All this ‘gayism’ stopped in the year 2000. Anybody born after the turn of the millennium pulling that kind of thing no longer qualifies as a decent human being.

      Well, one can dream, can’t one?

    2. Seriously. I had to read the headline several times because I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that it was the police, not the 15-year-old, using “gay” as an epithet.

  7. Well, I’ve read the original article twice, and I’ve looked for hidden messages in it, and I’ve carefully read the Press Gazette article, and I’ve even picked up my monitor and shaken it to see if anything falls out, and still I can see no reference to anybody thinking it might be a good idea to take any form of disciplinary action against the police involved.

    And that’s what really bothers me.  Do we just take it for granted now that they do nothing?

    1. Well, here’s a happy coincidence, from the Met website:

      The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Bernard Hogan-Howe will be doing his first ever live Twitter chat on Monday 19 December between 16:45 – 17:45hrs.

      Get your questions to him using #askmetboss.

      1. Ooh that is fun. Can we get a question that people can just copy and paste into Twitter about this and see what happens?

      2. How’s “#askmetboss Why was no action taken against the officers filmed calling Jules Mattsson gay for taking photos in a public place?”

        1. Inevitably, it will be during the busiest time in an otherwise quiet week at work.  I’ll try and be there, but can’t guarantee it.

          It’s worth bearing in mind that the officer or officers may have been disciplined, but it wasn’t reported.  And, of course, the Chief of the Met may just not know about the case they’ve just settled.

          Or maybe they’ve had “retraining”.  Yeah.  “Retraining” always works.

  8. Cognitive dissonance… INCOMING! 

    Photographing a PUBLIC PARADE is an offense? 

    Seeing and remembering it must be some kind of offense too.Are the Armed Forces showing something they shouldn’t show, like secret plans or armament? Or are they parading the covert operatives?

    Head about to short-circuit. Until you realize that the person insisting on this is a bully, bullying persons for its own entertainment value. These don’t have to make any sense, except that you have to be manhandled because they want to abuse somebody, that’s the point of the whole exercise, really.

  9. I’ve gone for When will you finally de-culturalise the routine bullying of photo takers in public places, Mr Hogan-Howe? #askmetboss #Mattsson, but wonder if it’s too specific.
    Maybe something more general like Who hurt you, Mr policeman? Who hurt you? might be more productive and get right down to the nub of the thing.

    1. “Have you considered hiring dedicated professionals with a background in sociology and psychology, instead of power-hungry underachievers that simply like to exert power?”  Might cut to the chase.

  10. I think the most interesting part of this story is that solicitor Cotton is “head of the police misconduct department [at the law firm]”.  It’s telling, isn’t it, that a law firm has a whole department.

    1. Might just be the sort of thing said by the owner of a one-person business who speaks of her ‘accounts department’ though. Y’can’t really tell. Especially when you can invent an ad hoc department on demand, depending on who’s talking to you.

      Like Niles Crane’s assumption that there’d be a Fine Arts Crime department in the Seattle police.

  11. I love the bit at 1:40 – “why did you prevent me from leaving?” “Because you… were acting silly”. Although, speaking as someone who often acts silly I am also slightly concerned – I didn’t realise it was an offence.

  12. Their apology is worthless.  Having to pay the kid money in the settlement is the only way they’ll learn.  Tit for tat.  Spare the rod, spoil the government.

    1. The worst thing is that it’s OUR money.  Some nutjob in a uniform goes round spouting excrement at the people he was employed to protect, and his punishment is for the taxpayer to give the victim some money?  That is seriously fucked.

  13. Who paid the ‘undisclosed settlement’?  The taxpayers?  Or did the policeman himself have to pay some of it?

    If the copper ‘has better things to do’.., why doesn’t he do them, rather than harass obvious non-criminals? 

  14. This kid is great. Stuck to his right to public place and did not back down at the thuggery or bull chips being forced on him. Good show. 

  15. I think that a more suitable punishment for this officer would be to strip him of his position and to give it to this diligent young man who clearly understands his job better than he does. Might even be worth going for a full on role-swap and sending the policeman back to school, as he clearly needs a little more education.

    The bit where the policeman just spits out some ‘I consider you a terrorist’ shit is exactly the reason why we don’t need these laws, they only exist to be abused.

    So what is it?  That he’s taking pictures of policemen?  That he’s taking pictures of children?  That he’s a terrorist?  That he’s breaching the peace?  Assholes scrambling for an excuse to detain someone for doing absolutely nothing wrong.

  16. This is his professional blog:
    Apart from this young guy being awesome and teaching me a thing or two on how to handle oneself he is also a very professional photographer. If you live in the UK then  you should consider hiring him on a news or PR basis. brilliant. Check out his stuff

    1. This particular policeman may need to be watched continuously.  Although Mr Mattsson himself probably wouldn’t want to be anywhere near the chap, perhaps somebody might consider him for the highly paid sinecure post of Director of Surveillance of Her Majesty’s Bullies and Jobsworths.

  17. Many of the posts above attack the cops involved, and police in general. suggests that it’s the uniforms and the separation they create between the police and the policed, and that anyone will behave that way, if you dress them up to play the role.  If I could quantify the extent to which police gear has grown to resemble military gear, I would not at all be surprised to find a strong correlation with frequency of civil rights abuse.

    1. If I were in charge, then police uniforms would be pink for this very reason.

      EDIT: which reminds me: wasn’t there a story a few years ago about police in Korea(?) being disciplined by having to wear a pink uniform?

      1. Yeah!  Let’s do it!

        Pink uniforms!  Pink underwear!  Pink handcuffs!  Let’s “degrade” those officers by forcing them to wear pink, because of course pink, a traditionally** feminine color, is degrading!  Let’s just insinuate that they are feminine!  Because that means they are sissies.  And being associated with *gasp* a traditionally female color is bad.  So degrading.  Awful!  We can’t have them be associated with femininity!  Oh, dear, no! Femininity is awful, so awful.

        What, are you Sheriff Joe Arpaio?

        Seriously.  No.

        It’s hugely sexist.  Not to mention the overly-macho thing is part of the fucking problem!

        AND, it’s a tactic used to try to degrade and shame inmates that haven’t been convicted yet.  It’s a tactic used by one of the most racist, sexist sheriffs in America’s modern history.  (Sheriff Joe.  Google him.)

        Awful, awful idea.  Unless, of course, you want to side with  totalitarian and authoritative police force, that is headed by a totalitarian and authoritative sheriff.  A sheriff that is currently under fire for his racial profiling.  A sheriff that is currently under fire for ignoring over 400 sex abuse cases, including toddler and child rape cases.  Then go for it.  Let’s bring out the pink uniforms!

        It’s a terrible, sexist, and just plain awful idea.

        **Actually, not so traditionally.  Did you know that pink used to be a color for boys, and blue a color for girls?

        1. Not sure what your point is.   Do you think pink is a degrading colour for a policeman to wear or not?  Because, I don’t.  But the sort of policeman who abuses his power probably would. 

          So, it’s a win-win.  Let’s stop pandering to the macho fantasies of sadistic men, and counter the apparent psychological effects demonstrated by the Stamford Prison Experiment, in one move.

          (The one way I will admit this *might* be sexist: my original post assumes that all sadistic cops are men.  I have no idea if a pink uniform would effect sadistic female cops — but presumably it would still help stop counter the Stamford thing.)

          EDIT: also, pink is an excellent colour for a uniform. It would stand out well in a crowd.

          1. ” Let’s stop pandering to the macho fantasies of sadistic men, and counter the apparent psychological effects demonstrated by the Stamford Prison Experiment, in one move.”

            Yeah, let’s stop pandering to the macho fantaisies of sadistic men by utilizing sexism.

            Totally going to work.

            Except, no, it won’t, because all you’re going to do is enforce their macho sadistic tendencies. They are going to feel that wearing pink is degrading because they will feel that anything associated with women is less than or weaker. This is only going to continue to enforce their sexist, macho, sadistic ideas and feelings. It won’t correct them.

            I don’t know why any intelligent, progressive person would find this at all appropriate.

            But, you know, if you want to align yourself with Sheriff Joe, one of the most sexist, overly-macho, racist sheriffs in the country, then that’s on you.

          2. And, yeah, using the color pink — which is considered a feminine color — to attempt to degrade or discipline people is sexist.  I’m really, really not sure how you could think otherwise.  Why do you think Sheriff Joe likes it so much?  Because he thinks being feminine is an awful thing to be.  So, he attempts to degrade his inmates by forcing them to wear a feminine color.
            Again, this is quite simple.

          3. Yes. It’s quite simple. It’s just a color. It’s not degrading, and it can’t hurt you. Try it!

            While I’d agree that making fun of men for wearing pink IS both degrading and sexist, simply wearing it is neither.

  18. Of course the ridiculous thing about this is that by detaining a photographer who was only doing his job, the police, who are supposedly worried about terrorism, aren’t actually looking for terrorists or bombs.
    They would rather continue on their power trip than actually do their jobs.

    1. Not so ridiculous. In this country, the tradition is that terrorism isn’t the job of the police but of the Special Branch or the Intelligence services in general. The police aren’t trained for that sort of thing. The police would be around to help clean up the mess after any failures of the aforementioned. Otherwise they’re meant for giving directions, testing the security of shop doors at night, rescuing cats up trees.

      Oh no, sorry, that last one’s the fire service isn’t it.

      We’re a long way from the civil authority and service of the traditional British Bobby on the Beat who was generally perceived as being on the side of the ‘law-abiding citizen’.

  19. Weird, when I signed in a window opened indicating I was a Boing Boing WordPress admin. You might want to fix that. :)

    On the apology by the police – the unfortunate thing about that is the fact that the legality of  laws and legality of the behaviour of police get tested in court rooms – not in the press or through undisclosed payments made to citizens who’s rights under habeas corpus have been infringed. 

    Don’t take the money, take them to court. Set a precedent. End the illegal behaviour of the police through the rule of law.

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