'Kettled' protester loses High Court compensation case

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A man who was "kettled" during a protest in central London has lost his damages claim against the Met.

Joseph Wright, also known as Matthew Richardson, was contained in a pen in St James's Square where the Israeli president was to give a speech in 2011.

He alleged he was falsely imprisoned for one hour and 50 minutes, subjected to assault and battery and had sought £25,000 in compensation.

But the High Court dismissed the case, saying the Met acted proportionately.

'Necessary and proportionate'

Mr Wright, 26, of Southwark in south-east London, was one of about 40 protesters holding placards and chanting at the March 2011 demonstration, which was organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to express opposition to the Israeli government's policies.

He says he was told by a police officer to move into the pen to prevent a breach of the peace, but that there was no justification for this as the protest was peaceful and not going to cause an obstruction.

In July, Hugh Southey QC told Mr Justice Jay the case was important because of its implications for freedom of protest.

But at Wednesday's hearing, Mr Justice Jay said the Metropolitan Police had had reasonable grounds to think a breach of the peace was imminent and that containment was "both necessary and proportionate".

There was a degree of physical confrontation when Mr Wright was ushered into the pen, but it was minimal, and he had still been free to demonstrate, albeit not quite where he wished to, Mr Justice Jay said.

He added that had he ruled in Mr Wright's favour, he would have awarded him £500 damages.

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