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  • #16

    March 18, 2010 -- Scotland Yard has not disciplined a single police officer for failing to display a badge number at last year's G20 protest, according to a watchdog report which expresses "dismay" at the attitudes of some senior officers.The report urges the Metropolitan police to undertake deeper reform of its public order policing tactics almost one year on from the demonstration in the City of London, which caused widespread controversy. A number of police officers were filmed or photographed not wearing badge numbers at the protest, prompting the Met commissioner, Sir Paul Stephenson, to launch a drive to ensure all officers were properly identified. He also said that officers caught deliberately covering their badge numbers would be sacked. But the report, by a panel of the Metropolitan police authority (MPA), the force watchdog, found today that although several officers were not wearing their badge numbers at the April protests, neither they nor their supervisors were formally disciplined. A small number had been given a verbal warning, the report found, but it was not clear whether the advice to the officers was recorded on file. The panel said it was dismayed to learn that some senior officers it had interviewed "did not appear to believe this was a disciplinary offence". Despite having been given the 33-page report in advance of publication, the Met claimed today it had not been given sufficient time to respond to its contents. It refused to give an indication of when it would be ready to comment on the report, saying only that it would receive "full and careful" consideration.

    Since the G20, the Met has issued more than 8,000 public order trained officers with embroidered epaulettes, which replace the traditional metal letters and numbers. However, the panel found evidence there were still "practical problems" with badge numbers, and urged embroidered numerals to be "rolled out to all officers without delay". Two of the most high-profile incidents of alleged police brutality at the G20, including the death of newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson, involved officers from the Met's elite Territorial Support Group who had failed to display identification numerals. The officer filmed attacking Tomlinson moments before he died had also covered his face with a balaclava, making his initial identification problematic. The Crown Prosecution Service is still deciding whether to charge him with manslaughter. A TSG sergeant, Delroy Smellie, who is accused of slapping a female protester at a memorial vigil for Tomlinson the following day, also appeared not to have covered his badge number. His trial begins on Monday at Westminster magistrates court. He has denied the charge of assault.

    The report, a draft to be endorsed by the full MPA, also criticised the way the Met prepares officers for demonstrations, describing the "look and feel" of the training facility used to prepare officers for demonstrations as "macho". Victoria Borwick, who chaired the panel, said some members were "quite shocked" when they visited the Met's public order training facility in Gravesend in Kent. "Their concern was: 'oh my God, is this how we are training our police," Borwick said, adding that the panel may have received a skewed view of the training on offer. "The course we saw was quite confrontational." The document is the latest in a long line of inquiries into the heavy-handed police tactics used at the demonstrations. Last year the government's policing inspectorate and two parliamentary inquiries into the Met's handling of protests all made a raft criticisms of the way senior officers handled the demonstration, many of them repeated in yesterday's report. In addition, the MPA report pointed out supervision of rank and file officers was inadequate, instructions around cordons were unclear and more could have been done to play down speculation, ahead of the protests, that they would turn violent. It also found found Sussex Police officers who came to bolster police lines were only briefed as they drove to London and that many officers' radio batteries ran flat, leaving them to use mobile phones, and. It also voiced concerns about the way the officers dealt with journalists.

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    • #17

      March 22, 2010 -- The trial of a police officer accused of assaulting a G20 protester was halted after the alleged victim failed to turn up to give her evidence. Metropolitan Police sergeant Delroy Smellie, 47, was due to go on trial charged with common assault during protests in April 2009. Nicola Fisher was unwilling to attend Westminster Magistrates Court and could not be contacted, the court heard. The case was adjourned so prosecutors can try to find Ms Fisher. Prosecutor Nick Paul argued the witness statement she gave to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) alongside video and photograph evidence could be used in the trial. But Sergeant Smellie's solicitor Lisa Wilding said it would be unfair to use Ms Fisher's important evidence without being able to question her about it. District Judge Daphne Wickham ruled that Ms Fisher's witness statement could not be read to the court as it was "not in the interests of justice".

      'Nervous and wary'

      The court heard that Ms Fisher's former boyfriend Gavin Shepherd, who was also due to be a witness, had failed to attend court. Ms Fisher had a witness summons posted through her door after colleagues contacted her by telephone at the weekend so knew she was expected in court, Mr Paul said. The court heard that Ms Fisher claims to have been suffering from depression and has shown a doctor's note to an official from the IPCC at her home in Brighton. She was planning to see a doctor and an application may be made for an adjournment depending on her "fitness to attend". The judge said there was evidence that Ms Fisher had been "nervous and wary" of the court process since February and that she has doubts in the abilities of prosecutors. However, Ms Wilding said a doctors note intended for work was "inadequate" and she would require disclosure of all medical notes about the Ms Fisher's condition. She added: "The defendant, as with all others, deserves some finality about the state of proceedings in a case he has to meet."

      Caught on video

      The alleged incident took place on the second day of the protests, which were held to coincide with the gathering of world leaders in the city. The incident was caught on video and posted on the internet site YouTube. It showed Sgt Smellie shouting at Ms Fisher, pushing her back, striking her with the back of his hand and hitting her across the thigh with his baton. Speaking about the case Mr Paul said: "The issue in this case is whether or not when Mr Smellie struck Ms Fisher he was doing so in self-defence. The evidence that we submit fully and really extensively covers the relevant circumstances." Mr Paul added that the officer's defence team want to question Ms Fisher's reliability as a witness and wish to explore with her the fact that she was aggressive "in the moments up and until the physical confrontation". Ms Wilding said Ms Fisher was an "unwilling and reluctant witness" and described the circumstances as "highly unusual" because of the interviews she gave. She said the case focused on Sgt Smellie's use of his baton to hit her thigh as the "back-hand strike is not said to be unlawful".

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      • #18

        March 31, 2010 -- A Metropolitan police sergeant who was filmed hitting a woman with a baton at the G20 demonstrations walked free from court today after a judge ruled he acted lawfully. Delroy Smellie, who was standing in the dock for the verdict, smiled widely and gave two thumbs up to his supporters as he was cleared. Nodding to the judge, he said: "Thank you very much." Smellie then hugged his brother and left the courtroom, joking and laughing with lawyers. The 47-year-old sergeant refused to talk to reporters, saying: "I don't think so, I've got a reputation to protect."

        Smellie was suspended last year after video footage was posted on the YouTube website showing him back-handing a protester and striking her twice on the legs with his metal baton. He was acquitted of assault by beating after a four-day trial in which his alleged victim, protester Nicola Fisher, declined to give evidence. The judgment is a major setback for the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which received almost 300 complaints about police behaviour at the G20 protests. Figures released last week revealed that despite numerous IPCC investigations no officer has faced serious disciplinary action and none have been successfully prosecuted.

        The district judge, Daphne Wickham, said there was no evidence that his use of the baton was not approved, correct or measured, adding that Smellie had a "mere seven seconds" to act, and other witnesses had feared for his safety. She said: "It was for the prosecution to prove this defendant was not acting in lawful self-defence. I have found the prosecution has failed in this respect and the defendant has raised the issue of lawful self-defence and as such is entitled to be acquitted." Wickham, who heard the case without a jury, watched video footage of the incident and looked at dozens of photographs. Nicholas Paul, of the Crown Prosecution Service, said Smellie lost his self-control because of Fisher's irritating, aggressive and confrontational actions. He said the officer was justified when he shouted at her, pushed her back and struck her with the back of his hand, knocking off her sunglasses. But Paul said the officer went too far when he struck Fisher across the thigh with the extendable metal weapon, known as an asp.

        The clash attracted worldwide attention when amateur footage of it was posted on YouTube. Fisher, of Brighton, suffered two bruises to her leg and enlisted the publicist Max Clifford to sell her story to a national newspaper for around £26,000. She failed to attend the trial, claiming she was depressed and did not want to be in the public spotlight again. Clifford said she would be disappointed but not surprised by the outcome. "He is a police officer, she's a protester so she's obviously very disappointed," Clifford said. "She sees it as a total miscarriage of justice. She was convinced that she wouldn't get justice."

        Smellie, from the Met's territorial support group (TSG), a specialist public order unit, argued during his trial that he believed Fisher posed a threat to himself and fellow officers. He said he repeatedly struck Fisher, who was considerably smaller than him, after mistaking a carton of orange juice and digital camera she was carrying for weapons. The incident took place on 2 April at a memorial vigil for Ian Tomlinson, the newspaper vendor who had died the previous day after being attacked by another officer, also from the TSG.

        Defending the force he used against Fisher, Smellie, who is originally from Bolton, suggested widely publicised video footage and photographs of the incident did not convey the threat he felt she posed. "Not one photograph or piece of footage comes close to reflecting the fear as I turned around to see this crowd and its proximity, both to myself and my officers," he told the court. "At the time I thought, this is it. She is deliberately coming from a blind spot. The reason she is coming from a blind spot is to hide her intention so she can approach and attack her target – me."

        Bystanders told the court they had seen Fisher acting in an aggressive and erratic way, waving her arms and screaming at police. One officer said she "looked like trouble" from the outset, and was seeking to provoke police. After Fisher repeatedly pushed toward the police line, Smellie struck. The prosecution said footage of the incident formed the "core" of its case. The video showed Smellie initially strike Fisher with the back of his hand in what the prosecution accepted was a legal "clearance-swipe". When Fisher again returned, shouting "you hit a ****ing woman", the sergeant took out his baton and hit her twice on the legs. These final two blows were what the prosecution claimed were unlawful.

        In his defence, Smellie said he back-handed Fisher because another tactic could have seriously injured her. Talking about the back-handed strike, he said: "Does it really need a broken jaw, which could easily have happened if I struck her with my left elbow in her face? I thought that the most reasonable level of force would be a flick with the hand as a distraction clearance." Smellie said that he chose to strike her legs with a baton – rather than her arm – for a similar reason. "The force of the strike, the differential in size – I could easily have snapped that arm." He said that, after striking her: "I hoped that she would either fall to the ground, drop the weapons or go away and get back, either one of those things she had been asked to do on many occasions. But certainly to ensure that she was not able to use those weapons or that the weapons were not able to be used."

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        • #19

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