Police boss says sorry for arresting LBC reporter but tries to blame media for covering M25 protests

10 November 2022, 08:56 | Updated: 10 November 2022, 12:13

LBC's Charlotte Lynch finally got an apology from Hertfordshire
LBC's Charlotte Lynch finally got an apology from Hertfordshire. Picture: LBC/Alamy

By Will Taylor

Hertfordshire's Police and Crime Commissioner has finally apologised for the arrest of LBC's reporter Charlotte Lynch during a Just Stop Oil protest.

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Charlotte had been covering the second day of eco protests on the M25 on Tuesday when she was arrested, handcuffed and held in a cell for hours despite presenting her press card and explaining who she was.

Hertfordshire Police refused to apologise but its elected police and crime commissioner, grilled by Nick Ferrari on LBC on Thursday morning, finally issued an apology.

David Lloyd said it "doesn't seem the right decision was made" to detain her but he added that police were in a "difficult situation".

Herts Police Commissioner says officers 'got it wrong' for arresting LBC's Reporter

"I’m not trying to defend that specific aspect of it – it looks to me and to most people as if we got it wrong on that occasion," he admitted.

Pushed for an apology, he said he had been brought on LBC as a "sacrificial lamb" and chuckled.

Read more: 'Arrested for doing my job': LBC's Charlotte Lynch tells of being held in a cell while covering M25 protest

But when Nick said he would not be laughing if he was commissioner at a force that had been lambasted by offices as high as the Prime Minister, Mr Lloyd said: "She should not have been arrested as far as I can see, but I've also said that I haven’t looked through the inquiry because it hasn't concluded, it hasn't started, I suspect.

"So I don't know whether or not she should have been, but to me it seems she shouldn't have been and for that I apologise."

Herts Police Chief says eco-mobs only protest because they know it will be reported on

In a rambling interview, he suggested the press needed to examine their own behaviour with regards to covering the disruption.

He said Hertfordshire "got it wrong here and we do need to recognise the important role of a free press" but that it needed to be worked out "how we as a society, as a community, ensure that the oxygen of publicity which Just Stop Oil is seeking is moderated so that we don’t end up with people doing this".

"And really, they are only doing it because they know it is going to be reported," he said.

The commissioner went on to say there needed to be thought about "where they sit on the front pages on the newspapers and where they sit within the reporting LBC is doing".

Read more: Just Stop Oil cause more chaos as they climb M25 gantries for fourth time on Tube strike day

"Your editorial policy needs to reflect whether or not we want to be part of the problem which is how Just Stop Oil are managing to get their message out their so very successfully,” he said.

But Nick challenged him, saying every editor must be on the wrong page because it is not just LBC covering the protests – and that if a group closes sections of an important motorway, "that’s what we in the business call news".

Just Stop Oil returned to the M25 for a fourth day after saying they would not relent in their campaign of disruption.

They have ramped up the pressure on the Government as they demand an end to the issuing of new oil and gas licences.

But their controversial campaign has drawn contempt from motorists whose lives they disrupt.

On Tuesday, Charlotte was covering a protest when she was handcuffed and driven to a police station in Stevenage.

"Even as the arresting officer was walking me to the cell, the penny hadn’t dropped. It wasn’t until he stood by the door and gestured for me to go in, and I saw the inside of a cell for the first time, it became real," she said.

"I immediately burst in to tears. I could tell he felt sorry for me.I am just a journalist who was doing my job. I am 25 years old and I have been a reporter for five years, but it was only a year ago that I moved to London to take on my first national role with LBC.

"For the first time in my life, I felt alone. No one knew where I was or what had happened."

Charlotte was released after five hours with no further action.

Just Stop Oil also had to admit the injury to an Essex Police officer was "awful" when his motorbike was involved in a crash with two lorries as he set up a rolling roadblock to deal with protesters on the M25. He did not suffer serious injury.

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