Clash between pianist and Chinese tourists sparks fury as they angrily demand their faces are hidden

23 January 2024, 13:11 | Updated: 23 January 2024, 13:47

A clash between the pianist and tourists has sparked outrage online.
A clash between the pianist and tourists has sparked outrage online. Picture: Youtube/Brendan Kavanagh

By Jenny Medlicott

A video of a pianist and a group of Chinese tourists has sparked fury among viewers after the group insisted the video should be taken down because it showed their faces.

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Pianist Brendan Kavanagh shared a livestream video to his more than 2 million followers on YouTube on Friday while performing on a public piano in St. Pancras International station.

The video shows Kavanagh setting up his camera at the public piano before he begins to play alongside a fellow pianist.

But later, a group stood in the back of the video holding flags of the People's Republic of China approaches the Youtuber.

One of the women, who claims to work for Chinese TV, approaches the pianist asking if their faces are visible in the footage.

“We are here filming for Chinese TV, did you film all of us in your cameras?”

Kavanagh says “I don’t know” before she proceeds to tell him they’re “not allowed” to be in the footage because they work for Chinese TV.

“We're not allowed?” Kavanagh asks. "We're not allowed because we're for Chinese TV," the woman replies.

But Kavanagh protests, as he insists he can film them because they’re in a public place.

Another man in the group then interjects as he tells Kavanagh they have to protect their “voice and images” due to “an agreement with other people” not to show their faces online.

The man later threatens Kavanagh with legal action.

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Police Called To Stop Filming During Piano Livestream

But Kavanagh refuses to back down, as he says: “We're in a free country, we're not in Communist China now, you know?”

The man replies: “I’m sorry, this is racist now.”

Eventually, two police officers get involved in the dispute.

One tells the group “if they're filming they have the right to do it in a public place” while the other tells Kavanagh to stop filming and that he can’t share the clip because it is a “police matter”.

The police then speak to the group away from the camera, after which they tell the Youtuber he must not use the footage of them on his channel.

"Because there's money being made, they work for a company, and their faces can't be shown on TV or somebody's channel," the officer says.

Kavanagh interjects: “You're not their private security agent.”

The officer then says the group had accused him of making racist remarks and trying to indecently touch one of them, although Kavanagh says he was just trying to touch one of the flags.

The police officer later warns him: “This is not to go on your channel by the way, this is me talking to you.”

But he replies: “Listen, we're in Britain, we're in a public space, it's a free country.”

Eventually, the group and police move on and Kavanagh finishes his livestream declaring “free speech prevails”.

The video which has since been shared online has sparked fury, with commenters applauding Kavanagh for not backing down.

One wrote: "Stand up for yourself mate, I'm 100% with you, and keep filming!"

While another said: "Admire what you did Brendan. Do not afraid to speak the truth and do whatever a free country allows you to do."

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