MONTROSE-based film-maker Anthony Baxter has been given an apology from Grampian Police over his handcuffing and arrest last July during the filming of his award-winning ‘You’ve Been Trumped’.
However, Grampian’s Chief Inspector Martin Mackay stopped short of an unreserved apology, saying that the force had acted properly and professionally throughout, and was justified in arresting him.
The arrest came while Mr Baxter was interviewing a resident of the Menie Estate, which is owned and is being developed as a golf resort/residential by American businessman Donald Trump. Mr Trump’s plans have been somewhat controversial.
While Mr Baxter was speaking to the resident, Grampian Police came on the scene and arrested and handcuffed him, before he was fingerprinted, and had DNA samples taken.
Police also impounded his photographic and recording equipment, and took into custody Mr Baxter’s colleague, Richard Phinney.
It appears they were acting on uncorroborated allegations by Trump’s staff that the film-makers had been on their property without permission.
And all charges against the men were dropped in January.
Grampian Police have admitted that the two officers who arrested Mr Baxter: “could have interacted more effectively with both you and your colleague”.
When Grampian Police realised the error of their ways and released the equipment, the footage became an important part of the documentary they were making, which was then named ‘You’ve Been Trumped’.
Chief Inspector Mackay said after watching ‘You’ve Been Trumped’: “I can understand why a member of the public could have perceived the police actions within the documentary as being rash and confrontational and this has caused me some concern”.
In May a police press release said that the arrests had been “corroborated by independent witnesses”.
The Chief Inspector conceded: “This was wrong and misleading, since the witnesses were in fact Trump employees.”
However, he claimed that because he had not been allowed to see the unedited film, he was not able to reach a “stronger conclusion”.
In the aftermath of the arrests, Mr Baxter and the NUJ accused Grampian Police of unjustifiably preventing journalists from doing their jobs by reacting in a heavy-handed manner to the situation.
And Mr Baxter is still not amused by what happened. He is quoted as saying that the police inquiry had “made a mockery” of the claims to uphold professional standards, adding that the arrest of working journalists as they conducted interviews was unprecedented in Britain.
He went on: “If these were normal ‘force procedures’ as the officers maintained, then journalists would be jailed in their hundreds every month in Scotland.”