Police alert over photo is bizarre'

PUBLISHED: 10:47 01 February 2007 | UPDATED: 14:59 12 May 2010

Paul Hillman

Paul Hillman

A PHOTOGRAPHER has described a brush with the law as one of the most bizarre moments of his life. Paul Hillman was left shocked after police quizzed his reasons for taking photographs of the Johnson Matthey plant in Royston. The experienced photographer

A PHOTOGRAPHER has described a brush with the law as one of the most "bizarre" moments of his life.

Paul Hillman was left shocked after police quizzed his reasons for taking photographs of the Johnson Matthey plant in Royston.

The experienced photographer had been taking shots of the sites chimneys for the Melbourn Photographic Club's chimney competition, while standing on the public footpath along Orchard Road.

He said: "The whole situation has left me totally baffled. What I was doing was perfectly legal.

"It was the best place to go to take a photo of a chimney. I've taken photos of them before and have never had a problem."

After taking the photos, Mr Hillman took further pictures along Kneesworth Street before returning to his home in Mackerel Hall, Royston.

However, his afternoon was disrupted when two police officers came to his door to inform him that Johnson Matthey security staff had reported his actions.

He said: "I have been taking photos for more than 40 years and nothing like this has ever happened before. It was really quite bizarre.

"The police were warning me on all sorts of things such as copyright, security and even terrorism.

Mr Hillman continued: "I can understand that they are worried about security, especially as I'm told that there has been a few break-ins, but the speed in which the police responded was absurd.

"The incident has really annoyed me. I'm always hearing about the police not having enough manpower and having too many overworked officers.

"I think it's stupid and such an over reaction," he added.

A Herts police spokeswoman said: "We were obviously alerted by Johnson Matthey security staff.

Anybody taking photos in a public place of a specific building of interest without prior permission should be careful.

"We had a duty to follow the report up. In this day and age of high security it's a public obligation.

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