By Owen Bowcott
A photographer who was struck in the face by a police shield during the G20 protests last year has been awarded ?30,000 compensation by the Metropolitan police.
David Hoffman, who was covering the event in his professional capacity, suffered fractured teeth after a police inspector in full riot gear ran at him and hit him with the shield, says his law firm, Bindmans, which negotiated the settlement.
Hoffman’s solicitor, Chez Cotton, said in a statement: “Journalists such as my client are critical in disseminating information into the wider public domain.
“Reporters and photojournalists play a significant role recording political unrest, political events, which includes recording protest and, if it arises, police wrongdoing.
“That my client was assaulted by a police officer when carrying out this essential function, and brutally so, is shocking. Fortunately with photographic and film evidence of the incident and detailed testimony, Mr Hoffman has succeeded in holding the police to account.”
In an accompanying apology, the Metropolitan police said: “On 1 April 2009 well-respected social issues photographer David Hoffman was recording the G20 protests in the City of London.
“The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) recognise that Mr Hoffman was entitled to report on that day but was caused injury by an MPS officer during the event, preventing him from doing so.
“The MPS confirms its recognition that freedom of the press is a cornerstone of democracy and that journalists have a right to report freely. The MPS apologise to Mr Hoffman for the treatment he received and have paid compensation.”
Jeremy Dear, the NUJ’s general secretary, said: “No journalist should be singled out by the police and the police service has no legal powers or moral responsibility to prevent or restrict photographers’ work. Journalists have a duty to record and report on public protests as well as the behaviour of the police.
“David’s case is a shocking example of police brutality and totally unacceptable.”
Related link in British Journal of Photography