A CAMPAIGNER trying to save parakeets says he does not want to demonise the police after he claimed they threatened him with legal action.
Simon Richardson, of Mildred Avenue, took photos of environment department (Defra) staff working in his neighbour’s garden to eradicate non-native monk parakeets.
He was accompanied by fellow bird-lover Keith Russell, of Furzehill Road, who said the photographs were taken without incident or any communication with the workers.
However, later in the day, as Government officials continued to use cherry-pickers to disturb the South American birds’ nests, Mr Richardson was visited by the police.
Hertfordshire Constabulary claim they were called to prevent a breach of the peace, but according to Mr Richardson the crux of the visit was to warn him of possible legal action for invasion of privacy – by identifying the Defra employees.
Mr Richardson said: “One officer said: 'Regarding the filming you were doing, I should advise you that you are liable to be sued for thousands of pounds for invasion of privacy. Furthermore, were your pictures to appear in the local paper, we would become officially involved'.”
The IT worker said he was shocked, because it felt like a threat.
The conversation was overheard by animal rights campaigner, Kate Fowler, of Animal Aid.
Mr Richardson stood on his doorstep speaking to the two officers while holding his phone, which was on the line to Ms Fowler.
Speaking in a national newspaper this weekend, she described the police as heavy handed and smacking of Big Brother.
After the confrontation, which happened in May, Mr Richardson consulted a barrister who said the police had no business telling him he could be sued, as this would be a civil and not a criminal matter.
Speaking to the Borehamwood & Elstree Times today, Mr Richardson said he does not want the incident, which was widely reported in the national press this weekend, to divert attention away from saving the parakeets.
He said: “I don’t want to demonise the police. I’ve had one disappointing, disconcerting and unpleasant incident with two officers.
“But, I have to say in the past I’ve dealt with community officers and have felt they’ve been very helpful and done their best for the Hillside ward.”