23rd March 2006 Demonstation activist account

Anonymous wrote:

23rd March 2006

On 22nd March 2006 I attended a small demonstration outside Sequani Ltd in Ledbury. I arrived at about 15.30 and sat talking to 3 other protestors sitting on a grass verge. I noted one police car opposite with a police officer inside. Shortly afterwards we were joined by another elderly protestor who held the only banner which was an A3 poster with a dog on it from the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection (BUAV).

At 16.00 Sequani staff started filming us and so I filmed back to get a record of their behaviour, in the past security staff have pushed protestors into oncoming traffic. Some cars left and we continued to sit quietly talking amongst ourselves. One member of the group went to stand on the land adjoining Sequani a small unused driveway where the police park and protestors often hang banners and thus far there has never been an issue concerning anyone standing there.

The police officer was arguing with my colleague about trespass saying that we were on land belonging to MEB and that he was entitled to order us to leave because he was a police officer. I began filming proceedings. We continued the discussion about the civil tort of trespass and a car pulled up with 2 police officers leaping out who literally dragged me across the road. I then sat on a grass verge.

A sergeant who I now know to be PS 483 Whitchurch then shouted at me to leave the area quoting section 42 of the Criminal justice and Police Act. I had a copy of the Act on my person and was fully aware that it applied ONLY to demonstrations which were aimed at a person or persons at their home and that we were engaging in a peaceful and lawful protest against Sequani Ltd and were not trying to influence in any way the inhabitants of; Kennels Cottage, Old Kennels Farm Cottage (makers of cider and perry) or Orchard Cottage Guest House. Nor were we protesting against Watson Petroleum Ltd, MEB or Agrimech Hotech Solutions Ltd.

The demonstration was NOT aimed at anyone within their residence, nor was it in any way “harassing, alarming or distressing” and therefore section 42 did not apply. Whilst I tried to explain the legislation to sergeant Whitchurch he demanded my details which as the section 42 order was not applicable I was not obliged to do.

I understand that he wanted my details under section 42 and not section 50 at this stage. He screamed at me to stop filming. I was arrested after seconds, my hands were cuffed behind my back, my camera was taken off me and I was put in the back of a police van and taken to Hereford police station. I was not read my rights.

At Hereford police station I made representations to the custody sergeant that I had been arrested unlawfully and this was ignored and my detention was authorised. I asked to speak to my solicitor and was shown a phone in the custody suite within hearing of police and reliance security personnel. I explained that I had a right to a private conversation with my legal representative and was told that there was no facility for this in the station which I then pointed out breached PACE and the custody sergeant said that they had no facilities to enable prisoners to consult with legal representatives over the phone in private!

I was then examined by the police surgeon in order that the marks made by the handcuffs be documented by a medical practitioner at my request. I also made a complaint to Acting Inspector McLaughlin who was accompanied by a police woman concerning unlawful arrest, unnecessary use of handcuffs and the fact that I had been denied my right to consult my legal representative in private.

He commented that no one had complained before about the phone and said that the station was being rebuilt to which I replied that there was no excuse for breaking the law. He also said that regarding handcuffs it was up to the arresting officer whether s/he used them when I referred him to Home Office guidelines which actually state that, “handcuffs should only need to be used in exceptional cases for juveniles, women and elderly prisoners” (appendix 12 Home Office circular 62/1992 Use of Handcuffs).

He recorded the complaint and I then waited in a cell whilst police visited my home in Evesham from Hereford (for some unknown reason police officers local to Evesham were not used) and questioned my neighbours and housemate about my identity despite the fact that I had my driving licence and other identification on my person at the time of the arrest. I had also heard myself identified on the police radio when in the back of the van.

At approximately 21.00 once the police were satisfied that I was not lying about my identity I was charged with the following :

“On 22nd March at Ledbury in the county of Herefordshire being a person whom a constable had reason to believe was acting in an anti-social manner, namely trespassing on land belonging to Sequani and taking part in a protest against Sequani in the vicinity of a dwelling, failed when required by the constable to give your name and address. S.50 (2) Police Reform Act 2002”

They then tried to impose bail conditions which would have banned me from the whole of Herefordshire “in order to protect the public” and I made very strong representations that I had been arrested unlawfully, was being held unlawfully and that I would not accept conditional bail.

I consulted my solicitor Gavin Haigh again who also made very strong representations on my behalf. A discussion followed with the custody sergeant during which he gave me the impression that he had been instructed by persons unknown to authorise my detention and was not acting autonomously solely within the confines of PACE and common sense as he should do.

He almost appeared sympathetic but did comment on management and other influences. He did also mention Staffordshire police being involved in policing in Ledbury which was already known but has called concern to animal right people due to the violent nature of PCs Rushden and Lynn and Inspector Bird (all of whom have been seen at Sequani), as well as the unlawful arrests they have made. The close connections of these 3 officers to NETCU is of further concern as NETCU is blatantly pro vivisection even including links to animal testing lobby groups on their website http://www.netcu.org.uk thus strongly indicating that they are in no way impartial.

I was imprisoned overnight and in the morning noted that when Reliance arrived to escort me to court that my belongings had been removed from the bag they had originally been sealed in and put into separate bags which I then complained about to another custody sergeant. He called Inspector Paul Crow so that we could ascertain what had happened and the lady from Reliance left the area.

Whilst we waited for Inspector Crow I noted a sign up saying acoustic and video recording devices were recording everything in the custody area, I looked up and saw a microphone fixed into the ceiling about 3 feet from where the phone where I had spoken to my legal representative. I asked the custody sergeant if this recorded everything in the room and he said that it did but pointed out that there was a sign telling people that everything said was being recorded. I replied that a private conversation with a legal representative should not even be listened to let alone recorded!

Inspector Crow arrived and I discussed these matters with him. We both consulted PACE 2005 and he conceded that I had not been afforded my right to consult a solicitor in private. Inspector Crow, the custody sergeant and I then went through my property together to make sure that everything was present as some of my property was not on the custody record. My property was then put in a bag and eventually sealed with tag M663998. I was put back in a cell.

Inspector Crow came and spoke to me again saying that there was a portable phone which was in use but there was no way to stop prisoners making other calls on it which surprised me as many shared houses and exasperated parents can ask BT for PIN numbers in order to block calls out. He apologised, thanked me for bringing it to his attention and promised as the officer in charge of custody to rectify the problem.

It was now 10.30/11.00 and the police decided to transfer me to court themselves and assumed that I would agree to being handcuffed “nicely” and walked through the streets of Hereford to court. Of course I refused and was forcibly handcuffed by 3 male police officers including the custody sergeant to my front then bundled into the back of a van then out the other side by police and Reliance security personnel.

Eventually I was taken before the bench and afforded unconditional bail and told that I had a right to peacefully protest. Even the CPS only wanted conditions of a 2 mile ban from Ledbury and mentioned some obscure reference to the interim injunction in Oxford.

My property was returned with the same seal on it. Later that day I noted that the video tape had been tampered with no recording of the police on it.

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