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Wednesday, 18 March 2020

If there's a photographer there, the MPs will get confused and vote the wrong way.

                           Mark Duffy cover pages - copyright Mark Duffy

For a break from Coronavirus, here is the absolutely fascinating case of Mark Duffy. Duffy was the House of Commons photographer during the height of the Brexit negotiations (happening a year ago this month - what happy days they were). You'll have seen his images across social media, and spread across the front pages of newspapers around the world.

He was an in-house photographer who also had an arts practice, one that linked in to Brexit. It was a practice that, together with the publicity his in-house images brought, led to him being subjected to gagging orders, disciplinary proceedings, dismissal for bringing the house into disrepute, and a morning raid by black-clad police officers.

                                      The image that saw Duffy accused of bringing the Houses of Parliament into disrepute

His photographs capture parliament during an unprecedented period of discord. They reveal both the chaos of the time, but also the low regard to which photography as a tool of historic record is held in the UK. His time in parliament also reveals the suspicion which photography is held and the rationalisations that can be made to block its use.

     The image that resulted in Duffy receiving a gagging order

The case of Mark Duffy and what it says about British attitudes to photography,and the way in which responsibility for parliamentary failures was laid at Duffy's door boggles my mind in a way no other photographic story has in the last year.

Read the whole story here. 

    The exhibition that resulted in a morning police raid

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