Film-makers arrested on site of Donald Trump's Scottish golf resort
The National Union of Journalists has protested about the arrest and detention of two documentary film-makers who were investigating complaints about building works at Donald Trump's golf resort near Aberdeen.
Anthony Baxter and Richard Phinney were arrested for breach of the peace, held for four hours, and had their DNA, photographs and fingerprints taken, after the Trump organisation accused them of entering its offices at the site and filming documents without permission.
The two men were arrested as they investigated allegations that contractors working for Trump accidentally cut off the water supply to several local residents, including his fiercest critic Michael Forbes, for several days. The journalists said their camera equipment was held by police for five days, preventing them from filming.
Baxter and Phinney, who have worked for the BBC and Channel 4 News and won awards for their films, strenuously deny the allegations against them. They insist that Trump's local manager, Paul O'Connor, freely agreed to be interviewed on camera and that their film proves they entered the building with permission and never filmed any documents.
In a letter seen by the Guardian, Grampian police said they had given the film-makers written warnings even though there was "sufficient evidence" to report both for breach of the peace.
Paul Holleran, the NUJ's regional organiser in Scotland, said the arrests were unjustified and had important implications for press freedom. A formal letter of complaint has been sent to the Grampian chief constable, Colin McKerracher.
"This is a blatant example of police interference aimed at stopping bona fide journalists from doing their job," Holleran said. "Their footage shows they were asking very pertinent questions in a mannerly fashion as befits professional journalists. I believe this is a breach of human rights, and we are taking legal advice. I think this must be one of the first cases in this country of journalists being arrested for just carrying out interviews to establish the truth and hold people to account."
Grampian police have refused to comment in detail since Baxter appealed.
A spokeswoman said: "Grampian police can confirm a report has been submitted to the procurator fiscal in connection with an incident at the Balmedie estate on 30 July 2010. As the matter is still the subject of active legal proceedings it would be inappropriate to comment further."
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