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Officers removed blogger for filming in meeting

By Carmarthen Journal  |  Posted: June 15, 2011

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FOUR police officers were called to Carmarthen's county hall after a woman was spotted filming with a mobile phone in the public gallery.

Jacqui Thompson, from Llanwrda, is an internet blogger and critic of the way Carmarthenshire Council is run. She has previously run into trouble for making a video of a planning meeting last month and posting it on the internet site YouTube.

On Wednesday morning, the full council meeting was halted part-way through when Councillor Pam Palmer pointed out that a member of the public had a camera.

Taking pictures and filming council meetings is prohibited by Carmarthenshire Council.

Chamber

Council chief executive Mark James called up to the public gallery: "Mrs Thompson, you have been asked time and time again not to film in this chamber."

Mrs Thompson, who was holding the telephone out over the chamber, said: "I am not doing anything wrong."

Mr James replied: "I hope you've got a good picture for your website."

To the council chamber he added: "Clearly Mrs Thompson doesn't want to put the camera down. Can we ask for the police to come and remove them from the chamber."

Chairman Ivor Jackson said: "I am going to suspend the meeting to remove that lady from the chamber."

The meeting then broke up with the councillors loudly complaining and talking.

Four police officers arrived shortly afterwards and at first Mrs Thomson refused to move.

After some discussion, she was led away by the arm, flanked by the officers.

As she was leaving the public gallery, some of the councillors jeered and applauded.

Police said afterwards that Mrs Thompson had been arrested to prevent a breach of the peace but was later released without any further action.

In a statement afterwards, Carmarthenshire Council spokeswoman Debbie Williams said: "The person in the gallery had been asked to stop filming and leave on a previous occasion. When an officer asked her to do this she accused him of assaulting her. That has been investigated by the police and the officer completely exonerated. Because of this background there was no alternative but to ask the police to deal with the person concerned."

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