Irishman accuses police

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The Independent Online
An Irishman facing terrorist charges was strip-searched and assaulted by six police officers before an appearance at Leeds magistrates' court, his solicitor alleged yesterday.

Sean Cruickshank, 21, from Londonderry, who denies planting firebombs for the Irish National Liberation Army in Leeds city centre last June, has made a formal complaint against several West Yorkshire police officers.

John Davies, Mr Cruickshank's solicitor, said that he visited his client before the routine remand hearing. 'After I left he was strip- searched and it all seems to have got out of hand,' he said.

Mr Cruickshank alleges that he was assaulted after asking for a blanket to stand on while he took off his clothes. The police officer refused and tried to pull off Mr Cruickshank's shirt. According to Mr Davies, when Mr Cruickshank resisted, the policeman grabbed him around the throat, several other police officers were then said to have joined in, verbally abusing him and punching him in the face and back.

After the assault, Mr Cruickshank was allegedly told by the police that he had to appear in court naked. Mr Davies said that his client was 'very upset' and he advised him he did not have to appear in court.

When Mr Cruickshank returned to Armley prison in Leeds he was immediately examined by a prison doctor, who noted bruising to his face, rib cage and shoulders. He then informed the Police Complaints Authority that he wished to make a complaint.

Eamonn O' Donnell, 37, his co- defendant, was also strip-searched after speaking to Mr Davies. 'I only spoke to him through the bars to say his solicitor was unable to attend court and I would represent him. When I left he was told to strip,' Mr Davies said. Michael McColgan, Mr O'Donnell's solicitor, has already protested to West Yorkshire Police and the Home Office about his client being strip- searched two weeks ago.

Mr Davies complained to the magistrate yesterday about the police attitude and was told the matter would be investigated. 'These men were strip-searched before they left prison, why do the police need to search them again after a solicitor's visit? It implies a lack of trust,' he said.

West Yorkshire Police confirmed that they had received Mr Cruickshank's complaint.