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Lancashire police guilty over stall holders' arrest
Posted 8 June 2009
In May 2007, two Animal Aid supporters were unfairly arrested for ‘obstruction of the highway’ whilst holding a stall in Blackpool for our Primate Day of Action, despite their stall being perfectly legal. The police were heavy-handed and intimidating but, in the end, no charges were brought. The incident was caught on camera and, with this evidence, a formal complaint was made against Lancashire Constabulary. After an investigation, the police officers were ruled guilty of having made an unlawful arrest, assaulting Jo and Keith and attempting to physically stop them using their video camera to document the incident. It was also found that, by doing so, they denied our supporters their human right to impart information to the public. This outcome has far-reaching consequences for other groups and stallholders, many of who may have previously packed up their stalls when threatened with arrest for obstructing the highway.
In September 2007, two other Animal Aid supporters won their own landmark Appeal Court victory after being falsely accused by police of obstructing the highway whilst running a stall in Barnet, North London for our 2006 Primate Action Day. In both the original magistrates hearing and the appeal, Animal Aid Director Andrew Tyler gave evidence. These cases, and others like them, show the lengths to which some police officers are willing to go in order to criminalise people for peacefully informing the public about the reality of animal cruelty. Our victories show that the police can - and should - be held accountable for trying to unlawfully suppress legitimate campaigning activities.