Met Police admits G20 protest arrests unlawful
Date: 22 March 2010
The Metropolitan Police Commissioner has admitted that officers acted unlawfully in arresting, searching and filming protesters at Camp for Climate Action’s “Convergence Centre” during the G20 protests in the City of London last April.
In a settlement of two lead claims submitted for court approval earlier this month, Sir Paul Stephenson admits that a decision to arrest all the occupants of the Convergence Centre in Earl Street, London on 2nd April 2009 “did not give the individual arresting officers sufficient grounds to enable them to have reasonable grounds” to suspect that the two lead claimants had been involved in violent disorder the previous day. The Commissioner admits that, as a result, it was unlawful to arrest and search them, and to force them to be recorded on film.
About 70 people were arrested when police in full riot gear stormed the building where climate change protesters had gathered. The officers were carrying shields and batons and one officer was pointing a 50,000 volt taser gun at the protesters. Witnesses said that, although the protesters were entirely peaceful and offered no resistance, officers acted aggressively, shouted and refused to answer questions, or tell people what was going on. Protesters were handcuffed and forced to lie face down on the floor for around half an hour before being searched. They were led out of the building one by one and filmed by FIT (Forward Intelligence Team) officers, and were then made to stand in the road in handcuffs while their images were compared with other footage held by the police. It is believed that only one individual was charged with any offence, and that the case against him was later dropped.
The Commissioner has agreed to pay damages of £3,000 each to Hannah McClure, 22, who lives in Leeds, and Andrew Rubens, 23, a student at Glasgow University, and to pay their legal costs. He has also agreed to destroy copies of the video-tape recording their images.
Claims will now follow on behalf of other people arrested at the Convergence Centre.
In a statement submitted to the court, Rubens said:
“I was very shaken up by [the incident]. The police’s actions have made me feel that the right to protest is under threat and that this right is now more important than ever. The way the police acted has taken away my faith in the police. I am now more determined to go to peaceful protests.”
Rubens is donating his damages to the Unity Centre, an organisation providing support for asylum seekers in Glasgow.
“No one who has seen the footage of this raid can fail to be shocked by the police tactics. A group of protesters was terrified by this unnecessary and aggressive raid. We asked the Commissioner to apologise, either publicly or at least individually to the two claimants. He refused to do so. We hope that the settlement of this case will help to ensure that such incidents are not repeated, and that the circumstances of this incident will be taken into account when planning for similar events in the future.”
For Further Information
For further information, please contact:
The Camp for Climate Action press team
Tel: 07932 096 677 or 07772 861 099
Stephen Grosz or Gwendolen Morgan
Public Law & Human Rights Department on:
Tel: 020 7833 4433
Mobile: 07803 126 589 or 07921 165 205