Dale Farm protester Ellen Yianni gets police payout

Ellen Yianni Ellen Yianni had her case dismissed by magistrates in January 2012

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A woman who protested against the eviction of travellers at Dale Farm in Essex has been awarded £15,000 by police for assault and wrongful arrest.

Ellen Yianni, 29, from Hounslow, south-west London, had been acting as a "medic's buddy" during the site clearance near Basildon in 2011.

Her solicitor claimed she was assaulted, wrongly arrested, held for several hours in poor conditions and "maliciously prosecuted".

Essex Police declined to comment.

Civil liberties law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, which represented Ms Yianni, said she had tried to climb a scaffolding tower at the entrance of Dale Farm because she "felt scared" of riot police below.

'Stream of threats'

She was grabbed by two officers, who pulled her from the scaffolding and threw her down a steep ramp, where she was hit by a shield to the back of the knees, it said in a statement.

Police in riot gear at Dale Farm Police in riot gear entered Dale Farm in October 2011
Police in riot gear at Dale Farm Protesters were involved in clashes with police during the Dale Farm eviction

She was later arrested for refusing to remove a scarf from her face, which the law firm claimed she was wearing because it was cold - not to conceal her identity.

"She was then held for several hours in a police van without access to food, water or her antidepressant medication, and once brought into custody at Basildon police station and interviewed, was held for a further five hours without being allowed a phone call to inform friends of her whereabouts," the statement continued.

It added that, in its view, Essex Police committed a breach of the Data Protection Act by releasing her name, age and address on its website when she was charged but had yet to appear in court.

It claimed this resulted in "a stream of threats and abuse via Twitter".

A caravan on fire at Dale Farm Some parts of the Dale Farm site were set alight ahead of the eviction

In January 2012, Southend Magistrates' Court dismissed the charge that she failed to remove a face covering.

Ms Yianni attended the hearing with her boyfriend Jonathan May-Bowles, who was jailed for six weeks for attacking media tycoon Rupert Murdoch with a foam pie at the House of Commons in July 2011.

Hodge Jones & Allen said its claim included the contention that stress and anxiety caused by police had exacerbated Ms Yianni's mental health condition.

It said Essex Police did not admit liability but had settled the claim, agreeing to pay Ms Yianni £15,000.

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