Friday, August 14, 2015

Child's Play ?

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's representatives have made a plea to the world's media not to publish unauthorised photographs of Prince George following suggestions that the behaviour of papparazi in trying to take photographs of the two-year-old boy has crossed the line into intrusive and potentially dangerous behaviour.

When Prince George's grandmother was killed in a car accident in Paris eighteen years ago, her brother blamed the papparazi for contributing to the circumstances leading to the accident. That view was subsequently endorsed by an inquest jury who found that Princess Diana and her friend Dodi Fayed were unlawfully killed, dividing the blame for this between the driver of the car in which they were passengers and the press photographers pursuing the car.

It has been suggested in recent months some photographers pursuing pictures of Prince George have:
  • Used long range lenses to photograph the Duchess of Cambridge playing with her son in private parks
  • Monitored the movements of Prince George and his nanny around London parks, as well as the movements of other household staff
  • Photographed the children of private individuals visiting the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's home
  • Pursued cars leaving family homes
  • Used other children to draw Prince George into view around playgrounds
  • Hidden on private property in fields and woodland locations around the duke and duchess's Norfolk home
  • Obscured themselves in sand dunes on a rural beach to take photos of Prince George playing with his grandmother
  • Placed locations near the home of Catherine's parents in Berkshire under steady surveillance
It is understood that the people responsible for these activities were largely if not all freelance and all British news outlets have refused to purchase photographs acquired by such means, but various media in the  Germany, France, Australia, New Zealand and the USA have bought and used them.
 
For photographers to pursue a two-year-old boy in this manner would be unedifying and intrusive whoever he was, but to do so in the case of a small child whose grandmother was found by a jury to have been unlawfully killed in an accident which was partly caused by the actions of a similar group of photographers is downright sick.
 
But the most serious concern is that these photographers could both put their own lives at risk and increase the potential danger to Prince George, his family, and innocent bystanders from terrorists by causing potential confusion in the minds of the police charged with protecting the royal family.
 
All the members of the royal family must be potential targets for DAESH (the so-called "Islamic State"). There must be some danger that police protection officers might be put in a difficult position if they have to judge whether men hiding in the vicinity of Prince George are papparazi trying to take a picture or terrorists trying to take lives. A mistake in either direction could quite literally have fatal consequences.
 
As the Metropolitan Police have said,   "The covert actions of photographers have at times caused concerns during police protection operations when they have been considered a possible security threat.
 
"Photographers are potentially putting themselves at risk from armed intervention where our armed officers perceive a risk to the personal safety of their principal, the public and themselves."

The converse is also true and these photographers could be creating a potential opportunity that  terrorists might have more chance of success because security forces mistook them for papparazi.

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