London

Student protest police officer cleared of baton attack

Student fees protest
Image caption About 10,000 people marched through London as part of the student fees protest in 2010

A police officer accused of hitting a student over the head with a baton during a protest nine years ago has been cleared of misconduct.

A panel concluded on Thursday that an unidentified Met Police officer was instead responsible for the blow.

Alfie Meadows, 29, who was then studying philosophy at Middlesex University, needed emergency surgery after sustaining a serious head injury.

Det Con Mark Alston was accused of striking the student "uncontrollably".

He was also alleged to have used unreasonable force when he "hit Alfie Meadows on the head, causing a serious head injury" during the demonstration against student fees in London on 9 December 2010.

Det Con Alston was a 26-year-old PC when he was deployed to the protest, which saw violent clashes in and around Parliament Square.

The City of London Police officer denied striking Mr Meadows and said he believed his life was at risk when he drew his baton to defend himself and his colleagues.

Image copyright Justice for Alfie Meadows
Image caption Alfie Meadows needed more than 100 staples in his head and was left with a large scar

During the three-person misconduct hearing in central London, chairman Nev Kemp said: "We are clear Mr Meadows suffered a serious head injury and that his injury occurred during the demonstration."

The panel said video footage appeared to show Det Con Alston's baton striking to the right of where Mr Meadows was standing.

"The baton of the Met Police officer appears to strike in the area where we believe Mr Meadows's head was," Mr Kemp said.

"We find therefore Mr Meadows was struck by a police baton to the head but the strike was performed by a Met Police officer and not PC Alston."

Giving evidence, Mr Meadows, who is studying for a master's degree in philosophy, said the blow to his head "was incredibly hard and painful".

"I saw flashing lights and it was the most painful thing I have ever experienced," he said.

Det Con Alston said he went into the crowd with colleagues to rescue a group of officers while missiles were "raining" down, and feared he could be injured by metal barriers being pushed towards him by protesters.

"I was trying to do my best to defend myself and my colleagues."

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