Man on the line at Clapham Junction

Man on the track at Clapham Junction

After taking this picture I was told ‘not to look this way’ buy a member of Southern rail staff. ‘Why’ I said. ‘It’s the rules’. ‘Who’s rules?’ I asked ‘You can’t stop us from looking’. I slowly began to move away. Moments later the female British Transport Police office third from the left in the photo felt the need to cross over the tracks from the other platform to challenge me. ‘Do you think it’s right to take pictures of a dying man, who’s probably not going to make it?’ ‘Well I am a photographer and work for the media’ I replied. At that her much bigger colleague moved in as well as the two Southern rail staff and I was ‘encouraged’ to move away. Just look at those firemen, what are they doing if not ‘rubbernecking’?

Was I right to take it? I think so. If only to highlight the exemplary work of the emergency services in trying to save the mans life. I was speaking to another passenger who said that he’d been told that the guy had been drunk, stumbling around on the platform, and then fallen on to the live rail. So be careful after you’ve had a few. I honestly hope he pulls through.

Fresh in my mind was the recent story of photographer Alan Lodge who came a cropper with the law while photographing an armed robbery. The irony of the case was that Lodge helped draft the guidelines used by the Police for dealing with the press. There’s more on Alan’s blog here The whole public/private debate is at a critical stage right now. See my notes on a talk given by media lawyer Rupert Grey at the BAPLA picture buyers fair for more on the subject.

It seems we live in an age when Pete Doherty can get away with possessing class A drugs for the umpteenth time but people can’t take photographs.

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5 Responses to “Man on the line at Clapham Junction”


  1. 1 Ben August 23, 2007 at 8:29 am

    Hello,
    I had a similar experience with pushy cops in Blackheath a while ago. One of them refused to give me his badge number and they moved the cordon tape back another 200 metres to push me back. I’m writing something for tomorrow’s South London Press on the accident. (guy appears to be ok, by the way) and wondered if we could use your picture?
    Cheers
    Ben Clover
    South London Press
    020 8710 6445

  2. 2 Ross Mackenzie August 27, 2007 at 12:45 pm

    Yet again, this is PC rearing its ugly head – in the name of ‘humanity’ this time. The police and all other officialdom nowadays seem to take delight in leaning on we, their wage-paying public, at the drop of a hat in the name of political (in)correctness. And there’s not a Court in the land that would dare deny them that misbegotten ‘right’! Your piece on the removal of the Barclays Bank Eagle (after 300+ YEARS!) is a similar example of misguided do-gooding.

    Snap, print and be damned – if only to stir the sh** for the large group of idle firemen wasting both their, and our, time and money.

    Regards,
    A ‘guilty by association’ bystander – until proven innocent in Strasbourg if I could afford the costs!

  3. 3 A. Matthews January 29, 2008 at 4:40 am

    I am the man on the track on the right side of the picture in the shirt In response to your two earlier comments How would you feel if it was a member of your family laying on the line half dead I dont think you would want pictures taken. And as for the person who said about the fireman standing idle there Without those fireman we would never have got that man out of there. My thanks go to all the emergency services that came out that night thanks to those people that man IS still alive today.

  4. 4 A o Hall January 29, 2008 at 5:42 am

    To the person that felt the need to take a picture of someone in distress. I am the supervisor that was on shift when this happened and i am deeply angered by these dimwitted views. because of the bravery of the emergency services and of my staff a mans life was saved.The person who told you to put your camera away had just seen this accident happen and to be honest let you off lighty. Now if you would like to return to Clapham and thank those responsible by all means we will set up a date. But to bash those how went beyond the call of duty i.e my staff i will not tolerate this each member was given a letter of praise for their efforts and quite rightly so.I look forward to your new and hopefully better thought out appion on this matter. I would like to thank the emergency services for there help you do a fantasic job every day and despite the views of a few idiots on that evening you saved a mans life, maybe they will think about if it was someone they cared for do you think any pictures would be taken then i doubt it.

  5. 5 Adam Osborne Hall January 29, 2008 at 5:44 am

    To the person that felt the need to take a picture of someone in distress. I am the supervisor that was on shift when this happened and i am deeply angered by these dimwitted views. because of the bravery of the emergency services and of my staff a mans life was saved.The person who told you to put your camera away had just seen this accident happen and to be honest let you off lighty. Now if you would like to return to Clapham and thank those responsible by all means we will set up a date. But to bash those how went beyond the call of duty i.e my staff i will not tolerate this each member was given a letter of praise for their efforts and quite rightly so.I look forward to your new and hopefully better thought out appion on this matter. I would like to thank the emergency services for there help you do a fantasic job every day and despite the views of a few idiots on that evening you saved a mans life, maybe they will think about if it was someone they cared for do you think any pictures would be taken then i doubt it.


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