Saturday, 9 August 2008


Matt Wootton, a Green Party activist, was searched and then arrested at the entrance to the Climate Camp near Kingsnorth in Kent last night, for alleged ‘possession of a controlled substance’. He was handcuffed and taken away by the police to Medway Police Station in Gillingham, where he was put into a windowless cell without proper toilet facilities, for the next 5 hours. His fingerprints and thumbprints were taken, and a DNA swab from his mouth, thus putting him onto the national police database.

Only towards the end of the 5 hour period was the substance in question actually tested by the police.

As Mr. Wootton had explained from the beginning to the police, unavailingly, the alleged ‘controlled substance’ in question was in fact Vitamin C…

Said Mr. Wootton, “It is crystal clear that ordinary people such as myself are being targeted for harassment by the police. Senior officers in the police have evidently decided that, if they make the lives of concerned citizens such as myself a misery each time that we try to protest against the damage done to our collective life-support system by the greenhouse gases being burnt into the atmosphere at places like Kingsnorth, then we will give up and go home. I am not so easily put off. But I am concerned about the state of our democracy and our civil liberties, when the police are wasting their time throwing people like me into the cells on a false pretext – when what they ought to be doing is getting out there to catch criminals. I suppose it is easier to harass a climate protester than it is to catch actual criminals…”

Mr. Wootton was denied his legal right (under section 5.6 of Code of Practice C set out in the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984) to a telephone call during his 5 hours in police confinement. The police said that they were ‘too busy’ to allow him time to make such a call.

Matt Wootton was released by the police, and reunited with his girlfriend near the Camp, only at half past midnight…

Derek Wall, Green Party Principal Speaker, commented from Kingsnorth:

"This is another example of how over-the-top policing has been at this
year's Climate Camp. It's more proof that the police priority here is
not to protect the public but to suppress legitimate protest."


Sue Luxton said...

Vitamin C?! You pro-consumption new Green, Matt!

weggis said...

One wonders what they would do with prescribed medication.

"sorry about your cell but you took away my pills to stop me pissing meself"

Jim Jay said...

Charming image weggis!

There are so many of these stories coming out of the camp - including injuries from yesterday's protests.

Very worrying - am very happy my friends are all back in one piece and laughing and glad to hear Matt W survived his rather unpleasant ordeal.

Big Buzzard said...

I was also at the camp for most of the week.

The whole thing was a joy - people from hugely diverse social backgrounds, from all over the country (and some from much further afield) living together with a sense of community, cooperation and mutual support which I have rarely experienced anywhere. Up tp 1500 people lived, ate, slept, met, discussed, watched poets, danced to live music and DJs and generally had an amazing time - and nobody would have noticed if the National Grid went offline for the whole week. The only fossil fuel being consumed was a bit of gas for cooking.

With one exception.

The Police (I saw hundreds of them, from Kent, Essex, London, Wales, Yorkshire - at least) descended on the place in vans and helicopters. Their actions (I shudder to call them tactics - for that would display Machiavellian/Orwellian behaviour I can't believe we could tolerate in the UK) were the only thing which spoiled this event.

The individuals I encountered - whether when being searched (my boxes of multicolored prescription drugs were all barely given a 2nd glance, after being told what they were for), or at the 'front line', a gate to the field where we spent 3-4 days with a line of 20-50 police up against a similar line of protestors in an absolutely farcical, ludicrous stalemate - were all polite, even entertaining company. But the actions I witnessed, of police stupidity and brutality which threatened to escalate into confrontations involving lots of serious injury were an embarrassment to a supposedly civilized democratic society.

Rupert said...

A thought-provoking story about the nature of policing of political protest in Britain today...