Police accused of brutality as fracking protester is left ‘battered and bruised’
Sean O’Donnell claims he sustained multiple injuries after being shoved to the ground by police at Barton Moss protest camp
A protester at an anti-fracking demonstration in Greater Manchester claims he was left “battered and bruised” after being assaulted by police officers.
The 44-year-old, an IT consultant from Newcastle who has been living at the camp on and off since before Christmas, was taken to hospital after being arrested on Monday on suspicion of obstructing police near the site, where the energy firm iGas is carrying out exploratory drilling.
He claims he got a black eye, cuts to his cheek and forehead, a broken metatarsal and suspected broken ribs after being shoved “face first” into the Tarmac on Barton Lane.
In a phone interview on Tuesday, he said he had been left with bruises “on every part” of his body, and had clouded vision following the incident. He claimed he had been a victim of police brutality and vowed to clear his name, then sue Greater Manchester police (GMP).
On Tuesday the force said it had referred the matter to its professional standards branch and was aware of the video footage. O’Donnell was charged with wilful obstruction of the highway and resisting arrest, a spokeswoman said.
The protester, who was acting as a legal observer at the Barton Moss site, said he was arrested after asking police to investigate a lorry entering the iGas site with no number plates.
His video shows him shouting to the chief inspector, calling him “Del Boy” and asking him: “What are you doing about the truck, man?”
The film then goes black as officers try to handcuff O’Donnell as he shouts: “Why the brutality? Where was I obstructing police? I am not fighting back.”
He can then be heard howling in apparent pain, yelling: “What the hell are you doing?”
O’Donnell claims he vomited before being put in a police van and taken to Swinton police station, with officers ignoring his pleas for a paramedic to attend.
He said the custody sergeant agreed to call an ambulance when he got to the station, and he was taken to Salford’s royal hospital.
After a CT scan and X-ray under police guard he was released back to the police station after receiving treatment, and was later charged.
Simon Pook, a lawyer from Robert Lizar solicitors, representing O’Donell and 35 other arrested protesters from the site, said police refused to let him visit his client in his hospital bed.
The lawyer said he lodged a formal complaint with GMP after an officer allegedly pushed him in the chest at the hospital and told him to “fuck off”.
He said he was worried about over zealous policing at the protest camp, saying: “I am concerned that the right to expression and the right to protest – sections 10 and 11 of the European convention on human rights – are being minimised by Greater Manchester police¬.”
He had witnessed an escalation in “robust policing” at the iGas site, he added.
On 27 January he will lodge a legal argument in Manchester magistrates court on behalf of the protesters he represents, arguing that they did nothing illegal when arrested for obstructing police or the highway at Barton Moss.
All claim they were protesting peacefully by trying to impede trucks delivering to the iGas site.Posted on: January 22, 2014