Hertfordshire Police chief constable 'truly sorry' for arresting journalist at Just Stop Oil protest

Charlotte Lynch was arrested while covering the protest.
Credit: Just Stop Oil/LBC
Charlotte Lynch has now received an apology from the Chief Constable of Hertfordshire Police Credit: Just Stop Oil/Charlotte Lynch

A chief constable has said he is "truly sorry" for the actions of his officers who wrongly arrested a journalist and held her in a cell for hours as she covered a Just Stop Oil protest.

Charlie Hall, who leads Hertfordshire Police, wrote to LBC reporter Charlotte Lynch admitting “on this occasion we clearly got things wrong”.

The force was heavily criticised after Ms Lynch described being handcuffed and left in a cell on suspicion of conspiracy to commit public nuisance – despite showing officers officially recognised media accreditation.

She had been reporting on the activists from a road bridge over junction 21 of the M25, in Hertfordshire, for around 45 minutes on 8 November when she was approached and questioned by two officers.

Documentary maker Rich Felgate and photographer Tom Bowles were arrested the day before for trying to capture footage of the activists.

A fourth journalist who has not been publicly named was also arrested on November 7 on suspicion of conspiracy to cause a public nuisance. No further details were available.

Mr Bowles and Mr Felgate said they had also received an apology from the force.

Amid outrage, and senior officers as well as the prime minister emphasising the importance of press freedom, Ch Supt Jon Hutchinson from Cambridgeshire Police was called in to review the force’s actions.

Charlie Hall, Chief Constable of Hertfordshire Police. Credit: PA

Mr Hall’s letter said: “He ultimately concludes that your arrest was not justified and that changes in training and command need to be made.

“The review, however, found no evidence to indicate that officers engaged maliciously or deliberately behaved in a manner which fell below that expected of police officers.

“I fully accept, however, that we made mistakes we should not have made.”

He added: “While policing public order incidents is fraught with difficulty and there was no malicious intent from my officers, on this occasion we clearly got things wrong.

“I recognise the significant impact that an arrest can have, and on behalf of my organisation I am truly sorry.

“I hope the actions we have taken indicate how seriously we have taken this matter and our clear intent to prevent this from happening again in the future.”

The force has carried out a review to make sure all public order officers have undergone awareness training about the work of the media, and an assessment of the number and experience of its public order commanders.

It is also bringing in measures to make sure commanders have access to public order advisers and mentors when carrying out operations.

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