'Misconduct' probe over Commons policing

The police complaints body is to investigate complaints against officers over yesterday's pro-hunt demonstration outside the Houses of Parliament, it was announced today.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission's investigators will examine complaints from the public after tempers flared in Parliament Square during the controversial vote to ban fox hunting.

Fights erupted on several occasions as thousands of supporters descended on the capital to urge MPs not to approve the Hunting Bill.

The IPCC chairman Nick Hardwick said: "Allegations were made to the media that members of the public had been assaulted. Official complaints have also now been made.

"Both the protesters and police officers can have confidence that our investigation will be an impartial, timely and proportionate search for the truth."

He added: "I have agreed with the Metropolitan Police Service that any allegations of misconduct will be referred to us. We will independently investigate these."

The IPCC inquiry will not look at police operational decisions nor the breach of security in the House of Commons chamber, a commission spokesman said.

Two of the 15 demonstrators arrested were today released without charge, Scotland Yard said.

Police in south London were still questioning 13 people - including six for violent disorder, two for breach of the peace, two for affray, one for being drunk and disorderly, one for threatening behaviour and another for disorderly conduct.

Violence first erupted at about 3.30pm yesterday as demonstrators tried to break through the police cordon in the south-west corner of Parliament Square. Fireworks, plastic bottles and placards were thrown at the lines of uniformed officers who were blocking entry to the Houses of Parliament.

Police fought the crowd back with batons as the violent scenes were broadcast around the country and dozens of people were seen with blood pouring from wounds.

Scotland Yard said 19 people - including two police officers - suffered "minor injuries".

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