Injured at protest, the student now in court for violent disorder

Alfie Meadows had to have brain surgery after the tuition fees rally, but today he is in the dock himself

Student Alfie Meadows had to have emergency brain surgery from head injuries he received during a tuition fees protest in December. Today the 21-year-old goes to court on charges of violent disorder at the same demonstration, and faces up to five years in prison.

Mr Meadows, a philosophy undergraduate, said: "I exercised my right to protest against something I feel strongly about. I ended up in hospital after being struck on the head with a police baton. I am now being prosecuted for violent disorder at that protest.

"I strongly deny the charge. The outcome of the investigation of my complaint against the police is due shortly.

"I hope it results in lessons being learnt by the police for the future policing of protests so that no one will ever endure what my family and I have. I am extremely grateful for all of the expressions of concern and support for me by members of the public."

Hundreds of protesters are expected to demonstrate outside Westminster City magistrates' court today, where Mr Meadows and 43 other student activists will appear over the next two days, charged with offences including violent disorder, affray and theft.

Anger from protest groups against policing tactics has been running high, with campaigners from republicans to those demonstrating against tax avoidance, public sector cuts and higher tuition fees being arrested and charged for an assortment of offences. Fifty-five people were detained in a string of pre-emptive arrests on the day of the royal wedding and 145 members of UK Uncut were arrested during an occupation of Fortnum & Mason in March.

Mr Meadows said that it was time "to show we have a right to protest – a right that has come under threat over the last couple of months". He and a fellow protester, Bryan Simpson, have set up an umbrella organisation called Defend the Right to Protest to support arrested students and activists.

"People can come together and realise there is a lot of strong unity behind the right to protest," Mr Meadows said. "It makes you feel less isolated... Support and solidarity is what we need now."

One of Mr Meadows' solicitors, Sarah McSherry, said she had seen the use of "tactics which infringe the right to peaceful protest, privacy and freedom of expression, assembly and movement" over the last few months.

"These include the photographing of protesters, the use of kettling to detain them and obtain their personal details, aggressive policing, particularly to enforce kettles, which places protesters, like Alfie Meadows, at risk of significant harm and the criminalisation of, particularly young, protesters."

Mr Meadows' claim has been referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Scotland Yard denies that it is cracking down on protests. A spokesman said: "We understand the importance of the right to protest, but people who break the law and endanger those who wish to protest peacefully by committing criminal offences must face the inevitable consequences of their actions."

Last month, an IPCC-supervised inquiry found that police actions were "justifiable" when removing the disabled protester Jody McIntyre from his wheelchair at the student demonstrations. The statement also said there was "evidence" that Mr McIntyre "was inadvertently struck with a police baton".

Mr McIntyre will be one of the protesters staging a "mock trial" of the police outside the court hearings of Mr Meadows and other arrested student protesters today and tomorrow.

Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff