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Streatham blogger detained under terrorism act for taking photos at Gravesend station
A commuter was left “angry and intimidated” after being detained at a railway station for taking photos.
The secretive blogger, who refers to himself as “Olly Cromwell” and wears a pig mask at protests to conceal his identity, was ordered off a Southeastern train at Gravesend by rail enforcement officers (REOs), after taking photos of them on his mobile phone.
The IT worker from Streatham wanted to use the photos on his blog and took them on July 24, while waiting with his wife on the platform, before taking another shot on the train.
The father-of-one said: “I had heard a lot about how REOs abuse their power, and wanted the pictures in case I ever wrote a blog about them in the future.”
He told the Streatham Guardian two of the officers asked to see his photos and, when he refused, they used the Terrorism Act as a reason to ask him to delete them.
After telling the officers they had no authority to enforce such a demand, Mr Cromwell claims they ordered him to get off the train and threatened to relay his description to the police for arrest if he refused.
The 36-year-old said: “I was pretty angry with them, and intimidated.
“The fact that private companies and their employees think they have the right to carry out actions like this and intimidate customers is very scary indeed.”
After being taken off the train he was escorted to Dartford station, where he claims he had to wait against his will on the platform for the British Transport Police (BTP).
A BTP spokesman said: “BTP were called to Dartford rail station after staff reported a man taking photographs.
“After attending and speaking with the man, officers concluded no offences had been committed and he was allowed to go on his way.
“The power to stop members of the public under the Terrorism Act resides only with police officers and with police community support officers, when accompanied by a police officer, and only when that power is authorised by an officer ranking Assistant Chief Constable or above.”
The blogger said he hoped his story will help people know their rights.
He said: “I aim to educate not only the average person on the street but the company and its employees too about what commuters are allowed to do.”
A spokesman for Southeastern trains said the public is free to take photos of its trains and stations, but should ask permission before taking photos of employees.