Updated: Wednesday, 26th June 2019 @ 11:40am

Classical singer sues GMP after PCSO uses 'aggressive begging' law to stop him performing Pavarotti in Sale

Classical singer sues GMP after PCSO uses 'aggressive begging' law to stop him performing Pavarotti in Sale

| By Jess Owen

A classical musician is suing Greater Manchester Police for loss of earnings after a PCSO used laws that tackle ‘aggressive begging’ to stop him busking in Sale town centre.

Professional flautist and singer Barry Jackson, 48, was singing Luciano Pavarotti arias and playing music in a shopping precinct when the female community officer ordered him to move on saying he was a 'beggar and a vagrant' and was causing an obstruction.

The intervention under the Vagrancy Act 1824. forced Mr Jackson, from Walkden, to abandon his five-hour stint after just 45 minutes.

He later consulted a solicitor and has now filed complaints to Greater Manchester Police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission.


CLASSICAL VAGRANCY? Barry Jackson was 'shocked' at the way he was treated

Today Mr Jackson, who received his classical music training as a flautist and tenor singer at Salford College of Music for two years before training at the Manchester College of Music, said:  “I am not a beggar or a vagrant – I am a professional musician, classically trained who has been through years of training to learn my craft.

''I have been in orchestras and choirs. I can sight read, I can join a group of musicians and sight read straight away and I find it very sad the PCSO should react in this way.

''It's bad a day when buskers are tarred with the same brush as aggressive beggars. We're not doing any harm – in fact we are playing beautiful music.

“Busking is a great British tradition but it seems someone in authority wants to restrict street culture and that is bad for all for all performers who perform in the street like me.

''I always try to be a responsible performer, never obstructing and definitely never asking for money. I simply play so people hear my work and it’s a great platform for showcasing what I can do. There is no way I would demand or pester anyone for money.''

Mr Jackson a father of one who also plays viola entered the music industry at 16 having picked up a flute when he was just eight years old.

After leaving college he became a blue coat entertainer at a Pontins holiday camp and has played with a variety of musicians including Scottish singer-songwriter Jim Diamond and jazz saxophonist Christopher 'Snake' Davis.

The incident occurred last month whilst he was performing in Sale town centre when he started singing Pavarotti favourites like Nessum Dorma and a complaint was made to the police.

Mr Jackson, a high baritone, said: “A PCSO arrived and said the complaint had been about someone singing and dancing and there was a lady dancing nearby who was nothing to do with me.

“I said to the PSCO, ‘can I stop you there? I am not with this woman. I work on my own. This lady is dancing. I am not.’ The lady even told the PCSO she wasn’t with me. But the PCSO just signalled me out and called me a beggar and a vagrant which got me really upset.

“As I remember she said ‘you are a beggar.’ She only said that when it was just me and her. I told her it was wrong and that her comment was inflammatory. I said ‘I am not a beggar, I am a street performer.’ She replied ‘actually it’s not, its vagrancy.’ I was so shocked. They are meant to know the law and enforce the law fairly but she had it all wrong.”

''She told me I was causing an obstruction and told me to move on. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it. I always make sure my equipment is contained and not obstructing anything. She could clearly see that. To be sent away at midday meant I missed out on a good four more hours of performing.”

Mr Jackson who claims he can earn up to £90 in one day of street performing believes he missed out on £40 because of the incident.

He added: ''I rehearse many hours a day and to be called a beggar is very insulting. When I busk I normally stay all day but after this incident I left after 45 minutes.

“I was in choirs from a young boy as a soprano and my mother was a soprano. She is one of the main reasons I became classically trained – she said if you are going to be a professional musician you might as well do it properly.”

He said: “I have been trying to make it for years but sadly I haven’t have my break yet. But if I had a penny for the times people come up to me when I am busking and say ‘you should be on the T.V’ or ‘you shouldn’t be here,’ I would be a rich man. There are so many talented singers out there but some like me aren’t lucky enough to get discovered. I reckon I lost about £40 and I cannot afford to lose this money.”

Greater Manchester Police said: ''We can confirm a complaint was made about officer conduct and they have been advised.''

The IPCC confirmed it had also received a complaint.

Trafford Council confirmed it does not issue a specific licence for busking but added: ''If we are contacted by someone about busking we advise they should be mindful of shoppers and businesses by responsible and not cause an obstruction or nuisance.

''They are also advised to be considerate and move on if asked by a business or the police.''

Story via Cavendish Press.

Images courtesy of Barry Jackson via YouTube and Facebook, with thanks.