BANGED TO RIGHTS
PUBLISHED: 11:34 25 September 2008 | UPDATED: 10:07 23 August 2010
ANIMAL rights campaigners have been offered thousands of pounds in compensation after police forced them away from a peaceful protest. A coach-load of protestors from the Animal Liberation Front and other animal rights organisations were stopped from joi
ANIMAL rights campaigners have been offered thousands of pounds in compensation after police forced them away from a peaceful protest.
A coach-load of protestors from the Animal Liberation Front and other animal rights organisations were stopped from joining a peaceful protest against the transportation of live cattle at Dover harbour in July 2006.
Kent Police allegedly threatened the 30-strong group with arrest if they did not return to their coach and were escorted back to London by two police cars and two motorcycles.
They were also forbidden to stop for toilet breaks or a drink of water on one of the hottest days of the year. It could cost Kent Police £37,500 if all 30 protestors accepted the offer. But this month, the police have written to solicitors Irwin Mitchell acting for the group offering an out of court settlement of £1,250 to protestors for being denied their right to protest.
James Willis, of the Dartford and Gravesham Liberal Democrats, who was at the Kingsnorth Climate Camp protest last month, branded the case 'political policing'.
He said: "If people want to peacefully demonstrate, it doesn't give the police a right to stop their message getting across.
"I would say to anyone who feels that they have not been allowed to peacefully protest to complain to their MP and the Police Complaints Commission.
"If they have a cause they should be allowed to protest peacefully."
Mr Willis is supporting Chris Huhne, Home Office spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, who is currently investigating claims of a £4 million budget to police the Kingsnorth camp protest amid claims of heavy handed policing.
He added: "What happened at the Kingsnorth Climate camp went one step further, the over zealous police presence seemed stifle free protest and debate."
Solicitors acting on behalf of the group are awaiting acceptance of the compensation by all members of the group before agreeing to the out of court settlement.
Campaigner Adrian Appleby, 65, has dedicated more than a year seeking compensation for what he says goes against his human rights.
Recalling the Dover protest, he said: "They first approached us and told us the coach wasn't road worthy and could we drive it 100 yards down the side road. Then we were told we could stay and protest for half an hour as there were problems there with people who are protesting but we later found out that no-one was arrested.
"Ten minutes later we were told to get on the coach and they were filming everybody. Then when one of the group tried to get off the coach he was shoved out of the way.
"We were then escorted back to London. We were gasping with thirst because it was such a hot day but they blocked the turnings off the motorway."
He added: "We were treated in the most disgraceful manner, we have every right to peacefully protest, it's our basic human right."
A spokesperson for Kent Police said that negotiations with the campaigners are continuing but declined to comment further.