No Photographs ~ No Evidence
At approximately 11.20 pm on Saturday 12th August, 1972, Denis Lemon, a member of the editorial collective of Gay News, was arrested for allegedly ‘wilfully obstructing the passage of the footway of Wharfdale Street, London SW10’. He was released on £10 bail later that night, and appeared at Great Marlborough Street Magistrate’s Court on the morning of Monday 14th August. After pleading Not Guilty to the charge. Denis was remanded until Tuesday 22nd August. He applied for legal aid and was remanded on bail.
It is understood that Denis will be represented by a solicitor and will be calling a number of witnesses in his defence.
Wharfdale Street, SW10, is directly behind The Colherne public house in Old Brompton Road. After ‘closing time’ on the Saturday evening Denis had been acting in his official capacity as a Gay News reporter and had been taking a number of photographs of police action outside and in the nearby vicinity of the pub. After taking a number of photographs of the police directly outside The Colherne, he crossed to the opposite side of the road where he took a few more pictures, then moved to Wharfdale Street where he was arrested whilst trying to take a shot of a number of police officers ‘moving on’ a small group of people chatting in the im street.
Denis was active that evening as he was attempting to gather documented evidence of alleged ‘police harassment’ by members of the constabulary from the Chelsea Division of the Metropolitan Police Force.
Over the past few months it has become apparent to the Gay News editorial staff, from either information received at the paper’s office or personally witnessed by the members of the collective, that the level of police action outside The Colherne has been increasing. A number of people have been arrested on various occasions.
It has also been noticed that police dogs have been frequently used by the police whilst performing their duty outside the pub. This has seriously worried members of the general public as well as customers, and the use of particularly large groups of police, often exceeding 20 in number, has sometimes nearly led to unpleasant situations to say the least. Alleged too, by Colherne customers, is that unnecessary violence has been used by the police whilst performing this almost nightly ‘duty’.
Other, more serious allegations have also been made by people about this regular occurrence. Gay News is at present taking a number of statements from individuals, which in time will be handed over to the correct authorities.
Police officers who have been questioned about these activities at The Colherne have commented that they are in the area because of complaints from local residents and because of obstructions to the highway and footway. Parking on both sides of the busy road outside the pub in fact seems largely responsible for the highway being frequently congested. A report of the outcome of Denis’s hearing at the Magistrate’s Court will be in the next issue of Gay News. There will also be continuing reportage of future developments at The Colherne in Earl’s Court.
The editorial collective of Gay News would like to point out to the customers of The Colherne that they will only be taking photographs of the police and will try not to take recognisable shots of the pub’s patrons. Any photo that clearly shows the identity of either customers or the general public will have the faces blanked out if these pictures are used in Gay News or any other publication.