Last week Lib Dem MP David Howarth held a meeting in Westminster to present a highly disturbing and potentially explosive report on the way police in the UK are criminalising legitimate protest. The report, produced by the Climate Camp's legal support team and entitled Policing of the Kingsnorth Climate Camp: Preventing Disorder or Preventing Protest?, documents a concerted campaign by police to deter, smear, intimidate, harass, and criminalise UK citizens who did nothing more than attempt to exercise their right to peaceful protest.
As well as documenting the alarming police tactics at Kingsnorth, the report also highlights a deliberate attempt to deflect criticism through misinformation. Government justified the heavy-handed approach by revealing that 70 police officers had been injured policing the protest; but a freedom of information request revealed that these 'injuries to police' included such things as heatstroke, toothache and insect bites. Vernon Coaker, the Home Office minister who had made the claim about police injuries, was later forced to apolgise to the House and admit that "there were no recorded injuries to police officers sustained as a result of direct contact with the protestors
A 10-minute video showing the heavy-handed policing was also presented at the launch of the report.
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