Burmese python

Picture: Ivan Ivanov

A photographer who sells pictures of tourists posing with his Burmese python has had his camera equipment seized by council officials.

Ivan Ivanov, originally from Bulgaria and now living in London, has been accused of illegal street trading by taking photos and selling prints on Golden Jubilee Bridge.

The seized equipment includes a Canon EOS 1000D digital SLR, Selphy printer, plus a Speedlite flashgun and photo frames.

?I can?t work without the camera,? said Ivanov, who told Amateur Photographer (AP) that he has yet to hear from the council since his kit was confiscated on 15 April.

Paul Reid, Westminster Council?s head of City Operations, told AP: ?The individual has been cautioned for the offence of illegal street trading, in accordance with local regulations and his camera was seized.?

The council is now considering whether to take further legal action.

Ivanov, who does not hold a trading licence, claims he was meeting his family on the bridge and was not taking or selling images, merely showing the snake to his relatives.

?I took pictures of my family. They [the officials] didn?t show any ID. They said you can?t stay here and they confiscated my stuff, putting it in a plastic bag?.

The council’s Paul Reid added: ?The City Council is responsible for maintaining good order and a safe environment, and this illegal street trading involving a snake could present a risk to members of the public.?

The council said it would treat a photographer selling pictures in the same way as an illegal hot dog seller whose trolley would be seized by officials under the City of Westminster Act 1999.

A spokeswoman said that someone does not need to be trading at the time the equipment is seized.

She added that it is ?unlikely? officials would grant a trading licence to someone whose job involves allowing the public to handle a snake.

As one of the world?s largest snakes the Burmese python can grow to more than 23 feet (7 metres) long.

They are sought after as pets but deadly attacks on handlers are not uncommon, according to a fact file on the website of National Geographic magazine.

They kill by constriction, grasping with their sharp teeth, and coiling their bodies around their victim. The snake is also an excellent swimmer.

Trading legislation states that the council is entitled to charge for storage of any seized articles.