Video: Cases against two student protesters dropped after footage shows 'shocking' inconsistencies in police officers' account of events


Michael Allen
Monday 13 January 2014 18:43
Simon Behman at the SOAS protest in 2011, ringed,
Simon Behman at the SOAS protest in 2011, ringed,

Two student protesters who faced career-damaging allegations from the Metropolitan Police have had the cases against them thrown out after YouTube footage showed “shocking” inconsistencies in the police officers’ account of events.

The incidents happened at a protest at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) during a talk by education minister David Willetts in June 2011.

Former LSE student Ashok Kumar, 29, had been invited to interview Mr Willetts at the event.

However, instead he found himself being arrested, strip-searched, and fingerprinted after he tried to intervene in a dispute between a teenage student filming police and PC Paul McAuslan.

PC McAuslan claimed Mr Kumar pushed him twice before running away, but the case against Mr Kumar was dropped in court after YouTube footage showed the police account was wrong and that no assault or obstruction had taken place.

Scotland Yard has agreed to pay Mr Kumar, who is now studying for a PhD at Oxford University, £20,000 in damages after he launched legal action for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, assault and malicious prosecution.

“What was astonishing was I was sitting in court and there were officers there ready to testify that I had done something when it was as clear as day from the video that I hadn’t,” he told the Evening Standard.

The second incident involves Birkbeck College PhD law student Simon Behrman, 36, who attended the protest again Mr Willetts.

Mr Behrman will also receive £20,000 in damages after court testimony given by PC Chris Johnson clashed with the evidence of photos of the incident. Mr Behrman claimed he fell after PC Johnson grabbed his rucksack and the protest group he had joined surged forward.

Legal papers claim Mr Behrman was then punched in the chest by another officer, PC Thomas Ashley, before being taken in a headlock by another officer.

The judge at the trial at Highbury magistrates’ court said the pictures shown to the court “blow this case out of the water”.

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police said: “As a result of video evidence produced as part of a civil claim against the MPS, which we have settled, concern was raised by those viewing the evidence and a DPS investigation opened in August 2013.

“Three officers are the subject of the IPCC supervised investigation.

At no time had we previously received a public complaint in relation to this matter, as soon as we were aware of the video evidence an investigation was launched.”

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