Thursday 11 May 2017

The December demo - and the role of the council press office

Back in December the local press reported on a small, peaceful demo held at County Hall to protest about the enforcement actions brought by the chief executive, and the council, concerning myself. As reported, and as part of the demo, an attempt was made to deliver a 'pound of flesh' to the chief executive. At the time, I was preoccupied in Carmarthen County Court trying (unsuccessfully) to stop a charge being put on my home for £191,000.

However, I have since learned that it wasn't just a couple of bods from the local press who chanced upon the little gathering on a cold winter's day, but the council's press officer as well.

The press officer, either on his own initiative, or 'under orders', hot-footed it out of the building and proceeded to film the handful of folk gathered at the bottom of the steps.

Now, we have become used to the idea that the police film political demonstrations, usually large gatherings which may, or may not, have the potential for trouble. This is often a highly contentious issue and peaceful, law-abiding activists have sometimes found themselves on police databases, and, essentially, marked as a potential 'troublemaker' for many years, with no recourse to clear their name.

This raises a very interesting question as to why the council, and I use the word 'council' loosely, felt it necessary to record the very small gathering (four or five people) last December, and what exactly it intended to do with the footage; This wasn't an angry mob bearing pitchforks.

Clearly the purpose of filming was to identify who was there and what was said; it was evidence gathering. Why? Your guess is as good as mine. A MI5 complex? To add mugshots to the council's database of known troublemakers? It beggars belief.
It certainly wasn't for the purpose of providing a video for the 'news' section of the council's website.

Whether the footage is still held or not doesn't matter, (I would hope it is not..) it all raises some very interesting issues; from the right to peaceful protest to the principles of data protection. But most of all it raises, yet again, the role of the council's well funded press office, and those blurred responsibilities between telling the public about their bins, and being, all too often as reported on this blog, the eyes and ears of the Presidential Suite, dutifully servicing the toxic culture, and control freakery, of County Hall.


Tessa said...

Not being shy or publicity averse, out of interest I asked the chap filming me on his phone who he was. He told me he was from the BBC. he was subsequently identified to me (on the day) as being from the CCC press dept.. He needn't have bothered lying - I was happy to let whomever wanted to, film me - after all, that's what a demo is for. Still, shifty or what?

Lesley said...

As one of the long-term "known troublemakers" who was proud to be present in support of the attempted delivery of the pound of flesh, I strongly object to covert filming of those of us who were witness to the Chief Executive's scurrying escape to his car to avoid the gory donation. Is his rapid retreat on film too I wonder? Didn't look good.

Anonymous said...

There seems to be an element of irony in all of this. You film CCC and they call the Police, yet their Department of Spin film a demonstration relating to your case, which ultimately goes back to you filming CCC.........and around we all go!

Anonymous said...

Are you sure he wasn't getting ideas for the next CCC Halloween Party? I wouldn't worry about it, I bet he was just glad to be out of the press department office for half an hour...I'm sure Tessa was the most attractive person he'd seen all day!