In a victory for the anti-fascist movement, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) has dropped its case against 63-year-old Alan Clough from Radcliff, Bury.
Alan was due to appear at Bolton Magistrates Court on Wednesday, charged with using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour during the protest against the racist English Defence League (EDL) in Bolton on 20 March.
Alan denies the charges.
The protest had been organised by Unite Against Fascism and was attended by a range of people from pensioners to students and trade unionists.
In a dramatic turn of events, the CPS dropped the charges against Alan after viewing Granada TV film footage obtained by his defence. Early in the video Alan appears to be punched by a police officer (after 18 seconds). Later the footage shows him being hit with a police baton while on the ground, before being dragged away.
A photograph of Alan, taken as he was being arrested by police, shows some of the injuries he sustained.
On hearing that the case had been dropped, Alan said, “I am relieved with the outcome, but I have mixed feelings. I would have liked to prove my innocence in court. It’s been seven long months and I’m glad it’s over.”
He went on to say, “I was never really worried about going to court because I knew I had done nothing wrong and I was always hopeful that in the end justice would be done.”
Alan had travelled to the demonstration with seven other anti-fascist activists aged between 58 and 70.
The case was due to be the third in a series of trials against anti-fascist protesters who took part in the protest against the EDL in Bolton. The first defendant was found guilty, but is appealing, and the second was found not guilty.
The film footage also shows police officers striking other protestors standing alongside Alan including those trying to help others who were knocked to the ground.
The campaign group justice4bolton was set up to support protesters facing trial.
In a press statement released by the campaign they say that the Granada footage supports “an overwhelming number of reports already received by justice4bolton describing violent and oppressive behaviour on the part of the police on 20 March 2010. The emerging body of evidence raises serious questions not only about the acts of individual officers but about the broader approach taken by the police toward those seeking to stand up against racism and fascism.”
The campaign will be holding a solidarity protest at the next trial on 4 November.
For details visit www.justice4bolton.org