Ontario newspaper publisher, editor cleared on charges of obstructing police
Published Monday, October 22, 2018 8:13PM EDT
An Ontario newspaper publisher and his editor son have been acquitted of obstructing a police officer -- charges that journalism advocates had called an attack on the press.
Aylmer Express publisher John Hueston and his son, reporter and editor Brett Hueston, were arrested last June while trying to report on a vehicle that had driven off a cliff near Lake Erie.
The province’s Special Investigations Unit was looking into whether the crash had been caused by the Ontario Provincial Police when the Huestons arrived and asked a plain-clothed officer where to park.
The officer told the men that they could not take photos. The officer’s superior then ordered them arrested, according to an account from the Canadian Association of Journalists.
The Huestons were handcuffed and taken to jail for three hours. Their cameras were confiscated.
The OPP was later cleared by the SIU in connection with the crash.
A judge in St. Thomas, Ont., found Monday that the journalists were only doing their job and had no intention of obstructing the police.
“We knew from the beginning we hadn’t done anything wrong,” Brett Hueston told CTV London outside the courthouse on Monday.
“If the police had only communicated a little bit, we wouldn’t be in that position,” he added.
John Hueston said he hopes the decision will give police “a little bit better sense of what our rights are and hopefully police will pay a little bit more attention to what our rights are.”
“We seldom sit and talk to the police and I think they need to know a little bit more about what we do,” he added.
In June, the Canadian Association of Journalists condemned the charges against the Huestons. President Karyn Pugliese called it an “unacceptable assault on press freedom and the public’s right to know.”
OPP Const. Adam Crewdson told The Canadian Press at the time that the force would not comment on the case, but that the OPP “strives for a good working relationship with our media partners.”
With a report from CTV London’s Brett Lale and files from The Canadian Press