Charges against student over Willetts protest at SOAS are DISMISSED!
On 27 October the case against me for breeching Section 4 of the Public Order Act was dismissed less than half way through the hearing. The case arose out of the protest against David Willetts back in June. In total four people were arrested at that protest. The police and the security acted aggressively, threatening people with CS gas punching and hitting various people including me. What had started out as a peaceful protest turned violent because of the police over-reaction. In order to justify several of their officers dragging me down some stairs, then punching me and grabbing me in a painful headlock, they fabricated statements accusing me of attempting to kick and punch police officers and security guards.
Luckily I had a good lawyer, committed to the right to protest, who managed to dig up photos which not only vindicated me, but exposed numerous lies in police evidence. The first police witness during my hearing had his testimony ripped to shreds by my barrister, using those photos. She also forced the police officer to admit that he had had no idea whether the meeting with David Willetts was public or not. Instead, the police had simply decided not to allow students and teachers to be allowed to express dissent, irrespective of their right to be there and to be heard. After this first police witness had completed his testimony, the magistrate informed the prosecution that their case ‘had been blown out of the water’.
The case was then dismissed. Luckily for me we had photos which proved that the police had lied. But if we had not been so lucky, I could possibly have ended up in jail, simply for exercising my right to protest. No doubt there are many others who have been, and are currently being dragged through the criminal justice system, solely on the basis of lies being told by the police.
But hopefully my case illustrates the fact that it is possible to face down the police and win.
Simon Behrman, Birkbeck Student
Footage of police violence and arrests at SOAS