ULEZ protesters claim Met Police used excessive force as video shows woman knocked to ground

An officer speaking to protesters during the protest
Officers spoke to protesters advising them of their rights at the weekend -Credit:Kingsley Hamilton

A London mayoral candidate has alleged that Metropolitan Police officers 'pushed and pulled the hair' of anti-ULEZ protesters while activists claim people were unfairly arrested and manhandled. Howard Cox, Reform UK's pick for the city's highest office, has called for an 'urgent investigation', claiming that protesters were dealt with in a 'needlessly extremely aggressive' way in Tooting on Saturday (April 6).

The protest reportedly took place close to Sadiq Khan's home which prompted police to use special powers to tackle alleged harassment, alarm or distress caused to residents. A video posted to Facebook seen by MyLondon appears to show a woman being shoved to the floor during a fracas over another woman's arrest. It's claimed she has recently had spinal surgery.

In a second clip, a woman is heard shouting an allegation that police 'had her by the hair', though the camera is pointed in a different direction. A third video shows an officer gently pushing a woman back, as she appears to be trying to get through to another protester who's surrounded by police.

READ MORE: Sadiq Khan makes plea to Londoners whose last chance to vote is in May

Headshot of Martin Whitehead pictured on a white background
Martin Whitehead claims an officer had 'eyes like a wild animal' and 'suddenly pounced on him' -Credit:Martin Whitehead

Martin Whitehead, 61, a plasterer living in Beckenham, was arrested by police. He claimed: "We'd been there for about half hour when the police turned up in big numbers demanding that we disperse under section 42. After a while we decided to pack everything away and leave.

"I headed towards my car which was behind the police line and was told I couldn't go there. A police officer told me that once the area was clear I would be allowed to my car. Very shortly after that the police moved forward and started arresting people."

Mr Whitehead alleges that an officer had 'eyes like a wild animal' and 'suddenly pounced on him' as he carried things back to his car having 'already packed up everything he was told to'. He added: "I was a bit confused as to what to do at this point and a police officer started shouting at me to put my placard down and very quickly grabbed hold of me along with two other officers and frog marched me around into a side street pushing me up against the side of a house.

"My arm was being pushed so far up my back I was screaming in pain. I also received a cut to my forehead. My shoulder is still sore from the incident."

'You've got three seconds to move or I'm arresting you'

Ally Young, 49, a former specialist education teaching assistant, lives in Old Windsor but attends protests in London 'every Saturday'. She said: "I saw an opportunity to take my dinosaur suit off [which I wear to protest about ULEZ]. I sat on the pavement to take it off. A chap on the right said, 'you've got three seconds to move or I'm arresting you'."

Ms Young added: "I have a neurological balance disorder, so I am unable to lift feet up and change standing [...] They arrested me. My friend was behind as he knew I'd need help up. They arrested him, too." She admitted that she and other received 'instructions not to go that way', but some did so 'because that's the way their cars were'.

Ally Young (left) holding a dog posing with Susan Hall (right)
Ally Young posing with the Tory pick for London's mayoralty, Susan Hall -Credit:Ally Young

The grandmother also alleged that confusion was caused by officers 'saying different things', with 'no consistency' to their orders. Protesters claim that they were told that they would be detained for blocking a highway, to protect against criminal damage and for causing alarm and distress.

'No one was causing any harassment'

According to Mr Cox, the police were given more than 24 hours’ notice of the protest, and, upon arrival, officers 'ordered campaigners to disperse' citing Section 42 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001. But the mayoral candidate claims that 'no one was identified to be causing any harassment, alarm or distress whatsoever'.

Instead, he alleges that a 'wall of police', amounting to more than 100 officers, was 'disproportionate' and that led to 'peaceful protesters' being 'wrongfully arrested'.

A spokesperson for the Met said: "Five people were arrested on Saturday, 6 April, by officers responding to a demonstration in Wandsworth. One person was arrested for obstructing police.

"Four people were arrested under Section 42 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act. This relates to the presence of people at or near to residential premises where there are reasonable grounds to believe that this amounts to the harassment of residents.

"All four people were given directions by police at the scene to move away from this residential area. They did not comply and were consequently arrested. The five people have been bailed pending further enquiries to a date in early July."

Protests 'outside or in the vicinity of people’s homes are not acceptable'

Commander Colin Wingrove, who is overseeing policing across London this weekend, said: "Protests outside or in the vicinity of people's homes are not acceptable. Everyone should be able to go about their daily lives without feeling threatened or intimidated. There are plenty of appropriate places to protest in London. Anyone who chooses to target a private home or the area nearby can expect to be dealt with by officers."

The Met also said that it was aware of footage being shared online showing 'a very small part of the police response' to the protests.

A spokesperson for the force said: "This footage have been assessed by officers from the Met’s Directorate of Professional Standards (DPS) along with the body worn video footage of officers. The DPS are satisfied that there was no wrongdoing by officers and any force used was justified in the circumstances."

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