Protesters attacked by police awarded pounds 89,000: Wapping demonstrators call for sacking of six serving officers

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The Independent Online
THREE trade unionists yesterday called for the sacking of six London police officers who assaulted them during a demonstration outside the News International plant at Wapping in 1987.

The three were speaking after being awarded pounds 89,000 in damages plus costs after the Metropolitan Police Commissioner admitted liability for the assault, the men's wrongful arrest, imprisonment and subsequent malicious prosecution.

George Hickman, one of the three, said: 'Where is the justice, when the people who perpetrated this attack are still in the police force?'

Mr Hickman, 44, Martin Wheeler, 29, and Jeff Charlton, 40, had travelled from their home in Wednesbury, West Midlands, to take part in a demonstration to support printworkers on the first anniversary of the Wapping newspapers dispute. When the protest erupted into violence, the three took refuge in the nearby Brown Bear public house.

But Edmonton County Court was told that a short time afterwards a large group of uniformed officers surrounded the three men and forced them out into an alleyway. Mr Wheeler was thrown face first against the side of a police van. He was then thrown into the van, landing backwards with his head under a seat. When Mr Hickman protested, his right arm was twisted up behind his back and his hair grabbed forcing his head backwards. He was then forced on to the floor of the vehicle and punched on the head.

Mr Charlton was grabbed from behind by the neck and waist and thrown into the van.

On the way to Bow Street police station, Mr Hickman was again struck in the face. The three were released three-and-a-half-hours later.

The policemen falsely alleged they had tried to arrest Mr Wheeler for being drunk and abusive outside the pub and had arrested the other two as they intervened. Mr Hickman was charged with assaulting police and Mr Charlton with obstruction.

But all charges were eventually dismissed by magistrates when the prosecution offered no evidence.

Following an inquiry into the policing of Wapping, the six officers involved - PCs Ian Storrar, Nigel Pratt, Robert Goodger, Gavin Steff, Ivan Szubinb and Terence Chitty - were charged with conspiracy to pervert the course of justice. The case was thrown out because of the delay in telling the officers they were to be charged.

The High Court ruling also effectively put a stop to internal disciplinary proceedings.

Scotland Yard yesterday declined to comment. But sources suggested the High Court ruling effectively prevented any reopening of the case against the officers.