Two students have won a major victory against the police after officers were shown to have made false allegations against them.
Police arrested Ashok Kumar and Simon Behrman during a protest against education minister David Willetts at the
Police claimed that Ashok twice pushed an officer and blocked an attempt to stop another protester filming an officer. He was charged with obstruction. They claimed that Simon had been violent and struggled with a security guard.
But a judge this week threw out cases against them after footage and photographs showed police claims to be false.
Simon told Socialist Worker that photographs taken by activist photographers on the day was critical to winning his case. “There was a lot of pressure just to accept the charges,” he said.
“You get the sense from the police that it’s just your word against theirs. But I couldn’t accept that I was being accused of something that I hadn’t done.”
Simon added that support and solidarity helped him decide to challenge the police. “People who I’d been protesting with marched to the police station after I was arrested,” he said.
“I could hear them singing the Internationale from my cell.”
Footage showed that Ashok did not assault a police officer and that no obstruction had taken place. A judge said that photographs of Simon during the protest “blow this case out of the water”.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is supervising a Metropolitan Police investigation into the cases. Simon said he and Ashok would have accepted less money if police apologised – but they refused because of the ongoing investigation.
But it can’t disguise the fact that police have been humiliated. “The main message from this is that people shouldn’t just accept what the police say,” said Simon. “You can challenge them and you can win.”