HS2 protesters ‘assaulted’ by security guards on site

High-speed rail construction under scrutiny since go-ahead to continue work despite lockdown

Kate Ng
Tuesday 05 May 2020 18:48 BST
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An anti-HS2 protester named Potts positioned in a tree in Crackley Woods, near Kenilworth, Warwickshire
An anti-HS2 protester named Potts positioned in a tree in Crackley Woods, near Kenilworth, Warwickshire

A protester involved in demonstrations against the construction of HS2 was allegedly assaulted by a security guard manning the site in Warwickshire.

Video footage of the incident shows the protester, with blood dripping from the back of his head, accusing a security guard of attacking him.

The group, a part of Extinction Rebellion called Stop HS2, has been blocking access to building sites for the HS2 high-speed railway in London and Warwickshire.

The project was given the go-ahead to continue work in mid-April, despite the nationwide coronavirus lockdown.

Protesters claim the work is non-essential and have called for the money being used for construction projects to be channelled into paying for medical supplies for the NHS instead.

In the footage, believed to have been filmed at Crackley Wood, the injured protester and another person is seen lying on the ground, surrounded by security guards.

He can be heard saying: “Please stop attacking us. Would you please let me up?”

As he sits up, he touched the back of his head and shows a bloodied hand to the camera, claiming: “This is the assault. One of the security hit me on the head repeatedly.”

He points to one of the guards, who turns his back to the camera and walks away as the camera holder tries to follow him and asks for his identification number, which cannot be seen in the video.

The camera holder can be heard telling the injured man: “Your head’s really f***ing bleeding man … you need to go to the hospital.”

A spokesperson for Warwickshire Police said: “We have received a report of an assault at the Crackley Wood site yesterday morning and we are carrying out enquiries.”

Following the assault allegation, a HS2 spokesperson said: “The government has given the green light to start building Phase One of HS2, which will generate thousands of jobs across the country and create 400,000 contracts opportunities, many for British small businesses. This is an important investment in the UK’s future as we recover from the pandemic.

“During the current health crisis, the actions of these Extinction Rebellion protestors have put our workers and the public at risk, and the emergency services under unnecessary strain.

“All leading environmental organisations agree that climate change is the biggest future threat to wildlife and habitats in the UK. By providing a cleaner, greener way to travel, HS2 will help cut the number of cars and lorries on our roads, cut demand for domestic flights, and help the country’s drive to a net zero carbon economy.

“We’d urge all green groups to help us in getting people out of their cars, off planes and onto low-carbon, high speed rail.”

Joe Rukin, spokesman for Stop HS2, told The Independent: “While the nation’s attention has been elsewhere, it has become the norm for ... those being employed by the government to use violence to deal with peaceful protesters at HS2 sites.”

The group claims HS2 Ltd have been “ignoring social distancing” and ordering people who set up protest camps in the woodland treetops to leave, as well as causing “a number of hospitalisations due to the actions of HS2 Ltd staff and their bailiffs”.

“Whilst these people are clearly out of control, they are safe in the knowledge that they can get away with anything,” added Mr Rukin.

Last month, HS2 workers were accused of destroying birds’ nests while clearing woods and hedgerows.

HS2 said it had complied with the law and that when nesting birds were discovered, a temporary exclusion zone was put in place until the chicks have fledged.

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