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Protester sues Met over Palestine demo ‘kettle’

Joseph Wright is suing the Met for £25,000. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire Joseph Wright is suing the Met for £25,000. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
5:49 PM

A man who was “kettled” during a protest two years ago is suing the Metropolitan Police for thousands of pounds, claiming that his human rights were breached.

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Joseph Wright, who is also known as Matthew Richardson, was contained in a pen outside Chatham House in St James’s Square, central London, where the Israeli President, Shimon Peres, was due to give a speech in March 2011.

Mr Wright alleges that he was falsely imprisoned for one hour and 50 minutes, subjected to assault and battery when forcibly moved into the pen, and that his human rights were breached. He is claiming up to £25,000 in damages from the Met.

His counsel, Hugh Southey QC, told Mr Justice Jay at the High Court that the case was important because of its implications for freedom of protest: “This was essentially a peaceful protest and the conduct of the defendant, if lawful, would have a chilling effect.”

The court will have to consider whether there were reasonable grounds to think a breach of the peace was imminent so as to justify containment.

Mr Wright, 26, of County Street, Southwark, was one of about 40 protesters holding placards and chanting at the demonstration organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to express opposition to the Israeli government’s policies.

He says he was told by an officer to move into the pen so as to prevent a breach of the peace, but that there was no justification for this as the protest was entirely peaceful and not going to cause an obstruction.

The contested hearing in London is due to last three days.

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