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SCOTS STOPPED UNDER TERRORISM ACT AT WIMBLEDON
By Stuart Fraser
Friday 17th July 2009
THREE Scots were left stunned after being stopped and questioned under the Terrorism Act for taking photographs at Wimbledon on Men’s final day.
Gary MacDonald, Kenny MacDougall and Alan Milne, all from Oban, were staying in London for the weekend at a friend’s house ten minutes from the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.
As their visit coincided with finals weekend at the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, the trio decided to take a walk down to the area around the grounds and soak in the atmosphere surrounding the final between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick on Sunday, July 5.
However, the trio were left gobsmacked when two police officers stopped them under Section 44 of the Terrorism Act for taking photographs of an international sporting event.
Mr MacDonald said: “We took a walk down to take in the atmosphere and to have a look at the place. Whilst standing outside, two police officers approached us and said that they had reason to believe we were taking photographs which we were.
“They asked to see the photographs and asked if we realised that it was an international sporting event where we should not be taking photographs. We didn’t argue because we didn’t want trouble but it was out of order as there were no signs up and thousands of people do it.”
The trio took photographs of the area surrounding an entrance to the All England Club outside Centre Court, of which images are already publicly available on Google Street View. The notification slip given to Mr MacDonald after the ‘Stop and Account’ states that they were taking photographs for approximately 30 minutes which he believes is wrong.
He said: “We were standing there for a maximum of 15 minutes taking in the sights.
“We didn’t see them approach anyone else taking photographs. They just stopped us and that seems unfair.”
Police officers spoke to them for around ten minutes before taking no further action although they said that the ‘Stop and Account’ would remain on file for 12 months.
Mr MacDonald said he now plans to complain to the Metropolitan Police although the incident has put them off visiting London again.
He said: “It put a dampener on the weekend because we were only there for a short period of time.
“Our friend, who was born and bred in Wimbledon, was most annoyed about it as he had never heard of such nonsense. It puts you off going back.”
Section 44 of the Terrorism Act 2000 allows the police to stop and search anyone they suspect is a terrorist threat.
A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police refused to comment although he was satisfied with policing at the Championships.
He said: “The Wimbledon Tennis Championships was policed appropriately and we have to take into account the security concerns of Londoners.”