A JOURNALIST has told how a police officer “ripped off” his press credentials while arresting him for covering climate activists protesting during the King’s coronation.

Rich Felgate, 30, said he was detained at a police station for 18 hours after he was arrested on suspicion of "conspiracy to commit public nuisance” – a new offence under the Tories’ draconian protest ban laws.

In a video of the arrest posted to social media, a police officer can be seen holding Felgate’s camera as he told him to “put it away”.

The journalist, the director of the documentary Finite: The Climate of Change, has been filming a documentary about Just Stop Oil protesters for around a year, which has seen him arrested three times. Police viewed him as guilty “by association”, he claimed.

He claimed protesters were being targeted on the King’s coronation route, as the monarch travelled to Westminster Abbey for the ceremony on Saturday, for “being known to be associated with climate activism”.

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Felgate told The National the officer arresting him stopped him from filming and then tore off a lanyard with his Bectu trade union media credentials.

He said: “We were all stopped and searched and the police said they were looking for ‘articles to commit criminal damage’ – they didn’t find anything. As soon as they approached me, I showed them my press card and started filming.

“Despite not finding anything to commit criminal damage, they proceeded to arrest everyone anyway for conspiracy to commit public nuisance. In my circumstance, the officer was kind of hesitant initially to arrest someone with a press pass.

“It seemed like they contacted higher-ups in their chain of command and had direction from above to arrest me anyway. He stopped my filming, they handcuffed me behind my back and started saying ‘the police are arresting a journalist’ and they proceed to rip off my press pass lanyard, I presume because they didn’t want it to be visible that they were arresting a journalist.

“I got taken into police custody, held there for 18 hours, interviewed and then got released under investigation. They haven’t dropped it, they’re still investigating me and I have to report to a police station in August.

“The protesters and myself were targeted just by being there, by being people who are known to be associated with climate activism, which is not illegal.”

Felgate fears the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act which took effect last year is having a chilling effect on freedom of speech and freedom of the press.

The law gives the Government sweeping powers to criminalise protesters and has been severely criticised by human rights groups.

Felgate said: “I’m making a feature documentary following Just Stop Oil and I’ve been working on it for just over a year so I’m quite embedded into their campaign.

“I’m not a protester with Just Stop Oil, I’ve never been involved their protests but I’ve been around a lot of things they’ve done over the past year for the purposes of making a documentary.

He added: “With the new anti-protest laws that have been brought in, we’re told that they are to stop disruption but really on the ground they’re used to stop people’s freedom of speech, to infringe on freedom of the press.

“This is the third time I’ve been arrested for filming Just Stop Oil and there’s very much this kind of approach from the police that if you’re associated with climate activism then somehow that’s guilt by association.”

Bectu and the Metropolitan Police were contacted for comment.