Trust in police damaged by Fortnum and Mason's arrests

19 July 2011

109 activists, arrested following a non-violent UK Uncut demonstration on the 26th of March 2011, have had their charges dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service.

Over 150 activists were arrested on 26 March 2011. They were handcuffed and transported to police stations across London, where they were held in cells for up to 24 hours.

Jenny Jones, Green member of the Metropolitan Police Authority and Green mayoral candidate, said:

"At the 31st of March 2011 meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority, I asked Tim Godwin, then, as now, the acting Commissioner, about footage of police officers telling people inside the store that they are free to go, then they all leave and they get arrested.

"I was directly told by Tim Godwin that none of his officers lied.

"Now, the Guardian reports that Chief Inspector Claire Clark was told by her fellow commanding officers that everyone inside the building would be arrested, and 10 minutes later ,she gave assurances to demonstrators that they would be allowed to leave unhindered.

Jenny Jones continued: "We have to know if senior officers knew that lies were going to be told.

"At a time when trust in police is approaching an all-time low, the policing of the Fortnum and Mason's UK Uncut protest has been revealed as truly political policing - the wasting of taxpayer time and money on punishment arrests.

Jones concluded: "A whole generation of campaigners will believe that the police do deliberately lie and unless action is taken urgently, that impression will stick. Unless the police apologise and take disciplinary action, then they will find peaceful protestors much more difficult to liaise with in the next few years."


Transcript from 31st March MPA

Jenny Jones (AM): I have also seen footage of a very nice police officer telling all the people inside the store that they are free to go, then they all leave and they get arrested. I do not understand. That officer looked as if she was being completely honest and credible and I am worried that she was saying what she believed to be true and then senior officers either did not inform her properly or lied to her. Did anybody lie to her so that she was saying what - so that all the protestors left peacefully --

Tim Godwin (Acting Commissioner, MPS): We do not lie.

Jenny Jones (AM): Where is the --

Tim Godwin (Acting Commissioner, MPS): We do not lie to our police officers. If I may interject at that point? If messages get cross wired or whatever then that may be one thing but we do not lie. I will ask Lynne if she can answer that one.

Lynne Owens (Assistant Commissioner for Central Operations, MPS): I, too, have seen the footage. As you will be aware it was a significant operation and we had a command team in place. The command team consisted of a Gold, a Silver and 13 Bronzes, all of whom had a minimum of two sub-Bronzes working to them. The officer that you have seen in the footage was a sub-Bronze. Clearly I cannot say too much about the incident itself because the individuals who were in that premises were being charged and, therefore, any communication that the officer may have had could be part of that communication but, from the documentation I have seen, I think there was a change in what happened over time. She may not have had all the information available to her at the time but I am very confident she certainly was not lied to and I do not believe she lied to the people in the shop.

Tim Godwin (Acting Commissioner, MPS): The point on this one, Jenny, is that it will be tested in court I am sure. That is the place for it to be tested.

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