Public Space, Private Consequences

Browsing Deviant Art, on StamatisGR page, I found very interesting story...

Greek Photographer Arrested in London

The Greek photographer Pericles Antoniou was accused of taking pictures of a young girl in London Metro and in effect was arrested and humiliated...
Accusations came from child's parents. Although photographer apologized and deleted all pictures with a girl from his camera, the father of a child followed photographer when he left the Metro and reported him to the Police officers.

Below I copy the fragments of a statement that Antoniou sent to the Ambassador of Britain in Greece.
(text comes from flickr article by Vasilikos)

”Dear Mr Ambassador,

I was in London during the Greek Orthodox Easter Vacations with my family and friends and I m writing this letter to impeach what has happened to me asking you, after you have confirmed all these, to make the necessary procedures so as to stop my humiliation and to restore my reputation. Above all, I would like to ask you that no other incidents happen in the future, because I think they have no place in today’s society, and especially among ourselves as citizens in the European Union.

My name is Pericles Antoniou, I am 53 years old and my hobby is Photography during the past 25 years.

On Thursday 17th April 2009, around 11:30 am, on the Jubillee line of London Metro, I was heading towards Modern Tate Gallery to visit the photo exhibition of the Russian photographer and painter Rochenko. On route and being fascinated by the fabulous themes, as I was starting taking photographs on the Metro of the people being present there, a lady complained about the fact that I was taking photos of her daughter. I apologized immediately, as the ethics and common practice of photographers dictates, I showed the lady the photos I had taken of her daughter, and I erased every photo which contained her. Thinking that the whole situation was over, an unknown man claiming to be the father of the child, followed me to the exit and approached some policemen, who were asked to arrest me.

From this point onwards everything was like a nightmare: they arrested me, the locked me up in a cell, they deprived me of every rights I had while being in custody, they did not allow me to communicate with anyone, they neither allow my wife to visit me nor my 14 year old son or any of my friends, they kept me isolated and barred knowing that I would not escape in any way, they took all my personal belongings such as my wristwatch, they took my shoes off and kept my camera. I was not even accused of anything formally and my relatives did not even know any of this. I, also, note that not even the Greek authorities in the UK know anything about this incident at that time, and they have been informed about it from my relatives.

Finally, after having been kept in custody on Thursday, they brought me to court on Friday handcuffed, and I was told that I am accused according to the 1986 Act 5, section 1 and 6 that I “might have caused fear and stress to the people around me”. Naturally, I pled innocent and there was a recess until the 18th of May 2009, where, as I have been told, I have to be present because I will be condemned as guilty in absentia.

Result: Our family holidays were ruined. We are suffering a post-trauma effect from all this happened to us, i.e. financial loss and expenses. My obligation to visit London once again and to pay for my own expenses, for accommodation and for lawyer fees. Also, I have to oblige the people who witnessed the incident to attend the court, as I have been advised to bring them with me so as not to be condemned. Nevertheless, I am deprived of my camera due to the fact that was confiscated by the police, and so I am not able to create. Finally, I have to take 4 days off my job in order to be present at court from 14 until 15th of May 2009.

I fear that I am in the middle of a case – as if it was written by Kafka himself for his novels - as a plain citizen, who is accused of exposing his artistic sensitivity, against a huge governmental mechanism trying to weave an absurd accusation against me. All this for a simple photo shoot taken place in public places having stated to the police from the very beginning that I did not have the intention to cause any harm, I did not cause any harm eventually, and that the photos I have taken did not cause any ill comments or any form of damage to anyone.


It is inconceivable for one to think, in the country where Bill Brandt, MarĪ„in Parr, Killip were born and their works are based on street photography, that I had to be humiliated and accused of taking photos (!!!) while being in the Metro – subway. It is noted that in the National Portrait Gallery there is a photo exhibition currently which is about photos taken of people in streets!!!

I intend to notify this letter to the Greek media and also I intend to inform the European, the Greek and the British Ombudsman; also I am going to repost this letter to the Greek, European and International Artistic Photographers Associations.

Pericles Antoniou,
April 21st 2009. “

Now I feel very relieved that our Mr Weirdo was in fact very nice and did not call the Police... Who knows what would have happened then?

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