October 20, 2010 13:09 ET

Manchester Police Pay Out Undisclosed Amount After Unlawful Assault on Anti-War Protester

LIVERPOOL, UNITED KINGDOM--(Marketwire - Oct. 20, 2010) - A prominent member of the 'Stop the War' coalition has received an undisclosed amount in compensation and a formal apology from Greater Manchester Police, after she had a Gordon Brown face mask forcibly removed by officers during an anti-war protest in September 2008.

The victim, Audrey White, aged 59 and a retired businesswoman, was a founding member of Merseyside's Stop the War Coalition. For 9 years she has liaised with senior police officers and organised demonstrations to highlight the campaign.

However, two years ago at the Labour Party annual conference in Manchester, brandishing a banner-sized Bank of England mock cheque made up payable to the 'Oil Companies and Arms Industry for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq- the sum of 12 billion pounds, the blood of one million Iraqis and the deaths of 300 British soldiers' and wearing a Gordon Brown mask, a female police officer ordered Mrs. White to remove the fitted rubber mask without any explanation. Mrs. White declined to do so and then the officer forcibly removed the mask with help from another colleague, dragging her to the ground.

Audrey White injured her neck and back during the assault and complained about her treatment to Greater Manchester Police. However, her complaint was rejected and the police defended their actions as reasonable, necessary and proportionate.

Her solicitor, Iain Gould from David Phillips & Partners Solicitors, who is a specialist in actions against the police, pursued Mrs. White's legal claim for compensation. He claimed for her human right to freely express her political opinion as well as the assault. He explains, 'the police initially argued that they were acting lawfully removing the mask as she was using it to conceal her identity. I challenged this given that Mrs. White and others had worn the mask all day; Mrs. White had been identified earlier when not wearing the mask; and that the mask was clearly being worn in a peaceful protest for political effect.'

He continues, 'only at a late stage in the proceedings did it become clear the officers in charge of policing the protest misunderstood the nature and extent of police powers. They thought they had a blanket power to insist that any individual who was wearing a mask was required to remove it and that if they did not, the mask could be removed by force.'

Mr. Gould added: 'Our right to freedom of expression and opinion by peaceful public protest is very important. If we are to be a democratic society it is vital that we defend it.'

About David Phillips & Partners Solicitors:

  • Offices throughout the UK including London, Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.
  • Regulated by Solicitors' Regulation Authority (SRA Ref#: 73353).
  • Founded in 1982 and has over 25 years legal experience in the following specialised areas; criminal defence, accident claims, actions against the police, property conveyancing, wills and probate, matters involving children, motoring offences and prison law matters.

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