TWO WEEK DISCIPLINARY HEARING OF PC MARK ALSTON BEGINS 11AM ON 4 DECEMBER 2019 At 21 New Street, London, EC2M 4TP
On 9 December 2010 Alfie Meadows was a 20 year old philosophy student from Middlesex University when he joined student protests against the tripling of tuition fees.
At around 3:30pm police officers kettled thousands of protesters inside Parliament Square. At the same time police officers temporarily opened up their police lines to facilitate mounted police charges into the crowd. As Alfie tried to leave the containment he was struck around the head with a police truncheon.
Alfie has described the impact as being “the hugest blow I have ever felt in my life”. Alfie’s mother, a university Lecturer, found Alfie and shortly afterwards he was rushed to Charing Cross Hospital where he underwent emergency, life-saving brain surgery as his condition became critical.
During the course of the protests a field hospital was set up on the green inside Parliament Square by a 34 year old doctor and two colleagues, who described treating around 30 protesters mainly with head injuries.
A St John Ambulance student medical steward also reported to press that by 4:30pm he had treated at least 10 head injuries from protesters having been hit with police batons, around two thirds of which were serious enough to need hospital treatment.
At around 9:15pm police officers forced the protest onto Westminster Bridge where they kettled protesters so tightly that they were in danger of being seriously crushed or pushed into the River Thames. The same doctor who had set up a field hospital said that people who had been kettled on the bridge suffered respiratory problems, chest pains and symptoms of severe crushing after they were finally released at around 11:30pm.
She described the incident as being “the most disturbing thing I’ve ever seen – it must have been what Hillsborough was like. The crush was just so great. Repeatedly I tried to speak to officers, telling them that I was a doctor and that this was a serious health and safety risk.”
Following the protests, video footage also emerged of Jody McIntyre, who has cerebral palsy, being forcefully pulled out of his wheelchair by police officers.
Shortly after Alfie lodged a police complaint regarding the use of excessive force by police officers, the Metropolitan Police made a decision to charge Alfie with violent disorder. He was unanimously acquitted on 8 March 2013 at Woolwich Crown Court.
The disciplinary hearing of PC Alston is expected to last until 17 December 2019. The officer faces two charges: one for using his baton dangerously and the other for causing Alfie’s head injuries.
COMMENT Alfie Meadows:
“On 9th December 2010 I joined thousands in parliament square to protest against the injustice of the Tory and Lib Dem plan to increase university tuition fees and impose austerity under the pretext of the financial crisis. While detained in the kettle, I was struck on the head by a police officer with his baton. I suffered a fractured skull and bleeding on the brain, and had to undergo life-saving brain surgery. After almost dying at the hands of the police, they then arrested me on a charge that carries a sentence of up to 5 years in prison. After 2 years of trials I was unanimously acquitted. But 9 years later the police officer who almost killed me has still not been held accountable, and nor have the metropolitan police been held accountable for the dangerous and violent policing of the protest. The sad truth is that my experience of the compounding of state injustice is in no way unique. Through my experience I have met many families who, after suffering the devastating injustice of losing their loved one in state custody, are met with the same response from the authorities: blame and criminalise the victim, and delay, obstruct, and deny accountability. But I have also been inspired and supported by these same families, such as Sean Rigg’s, Olaseni Lewis’, and Julian Cole’s, who have refused to give up in their struggle for justice. I hope that this hearing will finally provide accountability and acknowledgment of the truth. I would like to thank everyone who has supported me over many years. No Justice No Peace.”
Claudia Cole (Cole Family Truth Campaign):
“My son Julian Cole was 19, almost the same age as Alfie, when he also required emergency life-saving treatment after police officers restrained him and dragged him lifeless to a police van. I am so angry that Alfie and his family have been forced to wait for 9 years for an officer, who may have caused Alfie’s injuries, to attend a disciplinary hearing. But I am not shocked or surprised anymore when I hear about these delays to justice. My family and I had to wait for 5 years before seeing any officer held to account for lying about their accounts of what happened the night that Julian suffered a broken neck, spinal cord injury and heart attack. We still don’t know exactly who caused Julian’s injuries but we draw strength and determination from Alfie’s long fight for justice and we won’t stop fighting for justice until those officers have had to answer for what they did in a criminal court. I send my thoughts and prayers to Alfie and his family through this difficult time.”
Jo Grady (UCU General Secretary):
“I was one of the protestors in London that day and nobody who was there can forget the disproportionate and violent response of the police. A generation of campaigners was shaped by that moment, and we all understand how important it is to fight against the ongoing privatisation of higher education. But above all, it is past time for Alfie to get the justice he deserves.”
NOTES TO EDITORS
For further information please contact Rachel Harger of the Justice for Alfie Meadows Campaign on Rachel.firstname.lastname@example.org or 0787 264 5091.
Alfie Meadows is represented by Daniel Cooper of Imran Khan Solicitors.
The hearing has been publicly listed here, which sets out a summary of the allegations: