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Welcome to Insight: Legal

​Author: M McQuillan

Date: 21 March 2013

Source: timeshighereducation.co.uk


 

 ​Protesters versus the strong arm of the law

 
Justice has been poorly served by the bloody-minded determination of the police and Crown Prosecution Service to victimise students involved in tuition fee protests, argues Martin McQuillan

At 11am on a Friday morning earlier this month, after four weeks of proceedings at Woolwich Crown Court, Judge Douglas Marks Moore completed his summing up in the third trial of tuition fee protesters Alfie Meadows and Zak King. He then sent the jury out to deliberate. Five hours later it returned unanimous verdicts of not guilty.

Alfie Meadows, 22, is a philosophy undergraduate at Middlesex University. Meadows and King, also 22, had originally been tried, along with three others, on violent misconduct charges relating to the fees demonstration of 9 December 2010. At the same demonstration, Meadows received life- threatening injuries after an alleged blow to the head from a police truncheon. He was taken to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and subsequently transferred to Charing Cross Hospital, where he underwent a three-hour emergency operation to stop bleeding in the brain. Images of his shaved head and surgical scar have come to symbolise the events of that day.

At the first trial, held at Kingston Crown Court in March 2012, three of the accused were acquitted, with two guilty verdicts on lesser charges of arson, but the jury was split over the charges against Meadows and King. A retrial was ordered and set for Woolwich Crown Court on 29 October last year, but it collapsed because of sickness-related delays. As a result, Michael Mansfield QC, who had up until then been acting pro bono on Meadows’ behalf, was no longer able to represent him.

The third trial at Woolwich, two years and three months after the evening when Meadows nearly lost his life, finally resulted in his and King’s exoneration. Meadows has since called for the reopening of the Independent Police Complaints Commission investigation into the circumstances of his injuries (it had been put on hold at the request of Meadows’ legal team).





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