Friday, 1 May 2009

Met Cover-Up

I attended the Metropolitan Police Authority’s monthly meeting at City Hall today, along with Anna Bragga, my fellow Haringey Green. We had both attended the G20 protest on April 1st, and have both since logged complaints with the IPCC. We were therefore very interested to hear what would be said about the tactics of the police during the event.

The public gallery was quite full with other protesters, including members of the group ‘Defend Peaceful Protest’ - my colleague Anna is an active member of this group. Although the public are meant to remain silent, it was often hard to do so, what with the bare-faced lies the Metropolitan Police Deputy Commissioner Tim Godwin and Chris Allison, the Assistant Commissioner were regularly spouting. I literally sat there gasping as they liberally re-wrote recent history.

For example, according to Goodwin and Allison, the cordons were initially ‘filter cordons’, where you could go in and out at will. That certainly wasn’t our experience. We repeatedly tried to leave immediately after the cordon was formed – and we were given short shrift. Indeed, I was pushed by a policeman in the direction of the other protesters.

We were also told that the cordons were loosened during several times during the day to let people out. There were shouts of derision from the public gallery at this claim.

We heard that police didn’t stop people and ask for I.D…funny, that’s exactly what DID happen to both Anna and I, the minute we stepped of the bus at Liverpool Street. We were questioned for 10 minutes about why we were there, and asked for photo I.D. A policeman told us that they had stopped lots of people with “bricks and stuff” and that they wanted to protect us. Curiously, there is no mention of finding these “bricks and stuff” in the official account of events – just the discovery of fake police uniforms. I suspect this copper was employing scare tactics, designed to discourage us from attending the protest.

Whilst the policeman attempted to fill us with fear, our details were radioed through and we were checked for criminal convictions. When they found us to be clean, they let us go. But less than an hour later we were trapped in the kettle.

As Jeanette Arnold, MPA member said, “If that’s not unlawful arrest, I don’t know what is.” There was resounding applause.

I couldn’t help but laugh when the problem of the ‘missing’ police I.D numbers was dismissed as a ‘wardrobe malfunction’. Better Velcro is to be used in future, apparently. Velcro is the answer to police corruption… ‘Fashion tape’ would be my recommendation – they sell it at Oasis, I believe…

As I suspected might happen, the Met are keen to see this is a problem with just a few officers (“we have a small number of serious issues we need to deal with” was how they put it) rather than a systemic failure. But a few days before the protests, Met officials were claiming “We’re up for it”. Sounds pretty confrontational, doesn’t it?
The overriding attitude that day from the police was aggressive, uncooperative and intimidating. This wasn’t just a question of a few officers being out of line – this was a problem which came from the top down.

The whiff of corruption in that chamber was overpowering. I hope that the MPA members, Jenny Jones included, will work tirelessly to expose this and not accept fob-offs or lies, which is clearly what they are already being offered by the Met. See:

1 comment:

Anna Bragga said...

Well said Sarah!! It was mind boggling witnessing right in front of your eyes in City Hall, the very people you expect to trust, the very people who supposedly uphold and enforce the law, lie so brazenly about the policing operation of April 1st.

It makes you realise how much corruption there is in the Met and how important it is to have a MPA to hold it to account. Reform of this institution has never been more urgent.

Read my account of the MPA meeting for further insights:

Anna Bragga