Protestors who were ‘kettled' and beaten during the Fossil Fool's day protest outside the Climate Exchange on 1st April 2009 have won the first round of a battle to hold the senior Metropolitan Police officers involved accountable. Granting permission for their judicial review to proceed to a full hearing, Administrative Court Lead Judge Sir Andrew Collins commented that the claim concerned, "issues that can properly be regarded as suitable for the Administrative Court", including the decision to deploy force which was made minutes after officers had noted a "party like atmosphere" at the demonstration.
The judicial review is brought by three representative claimants. Chris Abbott, a researcher and academic who was punched in the face when Police Officers suddenly surged forward, Hannah McClure, a Masters' student who mentors foster children, who was pushed over by an officer who then stood on her stomach, and Josh Moos, a Plane Stupid campaigner, who was knocked to the ground as a baton-wielding officer vaulted over him. Mr Abbott's complaint has been dismissed by the Metropolitan Police on the basis that any officers who may have been involved cannot be identified.
Sir Andrew Collins has ordered a directions hearing which will deal with further disclosure of police evidence early in the New Year. On 12th January 2010 the High Court will also consider Kent Police's failure to provide evidence relating to stops and searches of 11 year old twins and David Morris when they were making their way to the Climate Camp protest at Kingsnorth last August. Granting permission for their judicial review to proceed last August, the Divisional Court held that they were appropriately selected test cases for thousands of others routinely searched during the course of the protest.
John Halford and Najma Rasul of Bindmans LLP act for the claimants in both cases. John Halford commented today:
"The Court's decision granting permission for judicial review in this litigation and the HMIC report highlight a fundamental problem with the policing in Britain - the entrenchment of a culture where the police believe they can deploy whatever tactics or force they consider necessary to suppress peaceful protest, as long as the mantra of ‘proportionality' is frequently repeated. However, that is not the law in any properly functioning democracy."
press release from Bindmans