Is it a crime to take a photo of a drunk?

The BBC is reporting that a man has been fined £100 for taking a photo of a drunken woman:

A man who took a photograph of an ill woman outside an Edinburgh bar has been fined £100 after being branded “unchivalrous” by a sheriff.

The woman had been drinking with friends in an Omni Centre bar when she felt unwell and went outside for air. Sebastian Przygodzki took a photograph with his camera, which upset Rebecca Smith and her friends called police. He was arrested and charged with breach of the peace, and pleaded guilty to the offence at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.

Przygodzki, 28, who moved to Scotland two years ago from Krakow, told police he had spent the day taking photographs of performers at the Edinburgh festival, which was in full swing at the time. When he came across the woman, he considered it “taking a photo of another view of Edinburgh”, said his lawyer, Andy Houston. But Sheriff Kenneth Hogg said the matter “could be best described as exceptionally unchivalrous”.

“The lady concerned was entitled to her privacy and not to have a passing stranger take a photograph,” said the sheriff. “I’m going to impose a fine to remind him chivalry is not dead and when somebody is in distress you leave them to it.”

Fiscal depute Mhairi Vernon, prosecuting, said Ms Smith had become unwell in the bar in the city’s Greenside Place about 2330 BST on Friday 8 August.

This is ridiculous, because people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place. (The area in question, outside the Omni Centre, would be packed with people at half eleven on a Friday night — the Omni Centre is to the south east of the roundabout in this image). If you don’t want people taking photos of you pissed in public, don’t get pissed in public. And if Rebecca Smith can’t handle her drink, maybe she shouldn’t drink at all.

Furthermore, the sheriff’s remarks suggest that if the drunk had been male (or perhaps the photographer female), he wouldn’t have fined the photographer. This is sexist, and no doubt illegal in Scottish law.

(Further coverage on FARK, Secret Scotland, Edinburgers)

UPDATE: the Edinburgh photographers Flickr group is covering this:

I wouldn’t have taken the shot as i’m not interested in those kinds of shots, I hope my images testify to this, but I never want to hear public shots are a criminal offense or that someone can decide that someone that is getting their picture taken in public is all the sudden a victim because they’ve had too much too drink.

Imagine what message this is sending out to the police.. if this is a rule now imagine what grey areas just became black and white in their mind, imagine the liberties the foot patrol are going to take?

this is a sad day for the UK justice system for letting this precedence cement. I’m not British, but if I was I wouldn’t be proud that this person is on the loose in your Edinburgh justice system.

This entry was posted in crime, human rights, Scotland, society. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Is it a crime to take a photo of a drunk?

  1. marvin says:

    I wonder if the sheriff is on his way to hitting his targets on issuing fines?

    It’s sad when logically innocuous behaviour is construed as criminal by petty jobsworths. Perhaps the Conservatives will help. Whatever, this shit has got to change.

  2. Pingback: Britblog Roundup 190 - The Not on the Internet Edition | The Wardman Wire

  3. Matt Wardman says:

    In essence, it isn’t an offence and the Sheriff is an arse.

  4. Pingback: “Man fined for taking photograph” « Duncan’s blog

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