Riots and recriminations

Police release gallery of protest suspects as one student recovers from wounds he received in Thursday's tuition fees demo, protesters plan to 'kettle' Scotland Yard.
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Indy Politics

Scotland Yard last night released pictures of 14 people wanted in connection with violence in a succession of tuition fee demonstrations since 10 November.

The release came as the Independent Police Complaints Commission yesterday interviewed Alfie Meadows, the 20-year-old undergraduate who was left with bleeding on the brain after being hit with a truncheon by police in Thursday's student protests.

Police have launched a public order investigation, Operation Malone, to cover all fee protests held from 10 November, when students stormed Tory headquarters in Millbank, until Thursday's demonstration in Parliament Square. A total of 175 people were arrested during the four demonstrations, including 34 who were detained on Thursday after havoc in central London left dozens of officers and protesters injured.

Detective Chief Superintendent Matthew Horne, leading the investigation, said: "We want the public to help us identify these people, who may have been involved in violent disorder, attacking police officers and smashing buildings, shops and windows."

While Mr Meadows, a philosophy student at Middlesex University, recovered from a second operation on his skull yesterday, police and students prepared for another week of clashes. Demonstrations will begin again tomorrow while council staff continue to work on the clear-up from Thursday's protests, which is expected to cost up to £100,000.

Students and schoolchildren will gather outside the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills tomorrow afternoon to demonstrate against proposals to scrap the education maintenance allowance for 16-year-olds who might not otherwise be able to stay in school.

Mr Meadows's family took legal advice yesterday, as his plight became a cause célèbre among activists who are using it as a subject for vigils and further protests. The next of these will be on Tuesday, when students are planning to "kettle" Scotland Yard.

Mr Meadows's mother, Susan Matthews, told the IoS: "He was in theatre this morning to remove a monitoring wire that wouldn't come out. He's got wires all over him, but he's being very jolly."

Mrs Matthews was one of many expressing concerns over the police's use of force, while Scotland Yard was said to be reviewing its tactics for dealing with demonstrators. "I think there's a need for a rethink about how this situation has developed," she said. "The relationship with the police has gone wrong, and the idea that more police force is needed is quite worrying. Calls for water cannons and searching can't be the answer. Policemen got into a situation where they didn't know what to do, so they wielded their batons indiscriminately."

A police spokesman said reports that the force was considering deploying water cannons were "pure speculation", adding: "We don't discuss specific public order tactics."

Police and protesters alike are now trying to understand how Thursday's demonstrations descended from peaceful protest into violence.

Some blamed non-students, including teenage gangs and anarchists, who, they said, infiltrated the protests, intent on crime and disorder. Others pointed the finger at the police, alleging the "kettling" of protesters had stoked much of the agitation. The police put the blame on the students, some of whom threw missiles.

Paul Sagar, 24, a PhD student at Cambridge University, said: "I saw kids who were maybe 15 or 16, who had snuck into the kettle earlier in the day. They were robbing people and when a journalist started filming them they threw him to the floor. A few of the protesters told these lads to stop and they picked up a hammer. They just seemed to be kids in a gang who were there to cause trouble."

Liam McKee, 21, a student at Hull studying law and politics, said: "There were a few groups I assume were anarchists – they had their faces covered – spray-painting anarchy symbols on Westminster Abbey and other places. There were also gangs of 15- and 16-year-olds charging around."

The security concerns raised by the attack on the car carrying the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have left police under criticism of being too lax as well as too forceful.

The Metropolitan Police Federation chairman, Peter Smyth, said: "We're damned if we do and damned if we don't. We accepted that at Millbank we got it wrong, so we put out more police officers. But when they throw snooker balls and lumps of wood, as they did on Thursday, you can't be surprised when the police hit you back. If they really think we're going to stand there and take it, and let them into the Houses of Parliament, or wherever they want to go, they should be in kindergarten."

Mr Smyth said that, compared to colleagues on the Continent, the British police had been lenient. "Can you imagine what the French police would have done if they'd tried to break into the French parliament?"

Allegations of excessive force from the police have continued to come, with reports that at least 43 protesters were hospitalised. Videos and photos showing police using batons on unarmed protesters have gone viral online. In some, police can be seen hitting people who have their hands in the air in surrender.

Jody McIntyre, 20, says he was dragged from his wheelchair by police during the protest. "I was attacked twice," he said. "The first time I was hit on the shoulder with a baton and then four or five policemen dragged me out of my chair and put me on the pavement. The second time I was pushed out of my chair by a policeman and dragged off by my arms."

Thirty officers were also injured, as snooker balls, wood and other missiles were thrown.

Paddy Besiris, 20, a student at the University of the West of England, had five stitches after he was hit from behind by a large megaphone battery thrown by another protester. "They were aiming for the police but I was at the front. I am frustrated that there was violence. I picked up something to throw and put it down again, as I realised it was stupid."

Two worlds collide: 'I was the only newspaper photographer around'

The photograph showing an open- mouthed Camilla and Charles has been reproduced worldwide and made the name of Associated Press photographer Matt Dunham.

The shot captures the moment when two worlds collided: an angry crowd, furious at having the vote go against them – and the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, off to the Royal Variety Performance.

Dunham, 32, had been covering the protest in Parliament Square earlier and followed a group of a few hundred protesters towards Regent Street, where he saw the distinctive royal car. "[The car] was stuck in gridlock," he told a daily newspaper. "There were people kicking it and screaming. So I raced towards it and then saw it was Camilla and Charles.

"I knew I was the only newspaper photographer around."

The photographer was able to get five pictures before hot footing it back to AP's Camden office, in time to make the next day's front pages.

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