MP Simon Hughes has spoken of his concern over police ?abuse? of anti-terrorism legislation and civil liberties following the arrest of a man who was taking photographs.

Police held artist Reuben Powell for nearly five hours for ?acting suspiciously? in South East London where he was reported to have been taking pictures.

In the past, Powell?s photographs have been exhibited at the nearby Elephant & Castle shopping centre.

Commenting on the incident, which occurred on 17 December, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said: ?He was searched and a lock up knife was found in his rucksack. He was arrested for being in possession of a named offensive weapon.?

Powell was later released without charge and the knife destroyed.

However, local MP Simon Hughes said Powell?s arrest under the Prevention of Terrorism Act has caused him ?great concern?.

?I was not only concerned for Reuben himself, but I am anxious that his case is one of many which demonstrate growing and unnecessary state intrusion into our civil liberties,? Hughes explained.

Hughes said he does not condone knife crime and praised police?s ?zero tolerance? policy on carrying knives in public, but he added: ?Nevertheless what troubles me is that anti-terrorism legislation was used to justify arresting and searching a local artist whose work is an important part of the regeneration of the local area? Reuben Powell?s case is only one example of the growing use of anti-terrorism legislation as an excuse to stop and search citizens.

?The anti-terror laws were passed by parliament to protect the public in exceptional circumstances. Taking photographs in Elephant & Castle is neither an exceptional circumstance nor a threat to national security.?