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Met pay out £40,000 after “inconsistent” police claims

Tom King, BA Politics

The Metropolitan Police have paid £40,000 in compensation after “shocking” inconsistencies in police accounts of arrests at a tuition fee protest at SOAS in 2011.

Ashok Kumar and Simon Behrman were wrestled to the grounded and arrested by police at a demonstration prompted by a visit from Universities Minister David Willetts and will now receive a payout of £20,000 each.

Kumar, who launched legal action for wrongful arrest, false imprisonment, assault and malicious prosecution, was a student at LSE at the time and had been invited to interview David Willetts as part of the event. Kumar intervened in defence of a student filming an officer after he had been prevented from entering the event by police due to the demonstration.

The officer in question responded angrily to Kumar and moments later he was wrestled to the ground by a number of police officers. Charges brought by PC McAuslan, claiming that Kumar had pushed him twice, were later dropped after video footage clearly contradicted the police account.

“There do appear to be inconsistencies between this footage and the notes of PC McAuslan”

In a letter to Kumar’s solicitors, the Metropolitan Police’s legal department said: “There do appear to be inconsistencies between this footage and the notes of PC McAuslan.”

Kumar said: “What was astonishing was I was sitting in court and there were officers there ready to testify that I had done something when it was as clear as day from the video that I hadn’t.”

The Met have also conceded that claims in court made by PC Chris Johnson that Simon Behrman, a student at Birkbeck, had been violent and had struggled with a security guard were inconsistent with photos of the protest.

The charges against Behrman were dropped after photographs of the incident were presented to the court, which the judge said “blow this case out of the water”.

Behrman has claimed he fell to the ground after PC Johnson had grabbed his bag before another officer, PC Thomas Ashley, punched him in the chest and took him in a headlock.

The Met say three officers are subject to an Independent Police Complaints Commission-supervised investigation following the incident.

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