Hannah Dee 0

Stephenson and Yates have resigned, now drop charges against student protesters

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Paul Stephenson's resignation confirms that, under his leadership, the Metropolitan Police has lost all sense of priority. Last week Assistant Commissioner John Yates explained to Parliament that he was ‘too busy fighting terrorism to tackle hacking.’ Yet amid the collusion between Met officers and News of the World executives, the force also saw fit to assign up to 200 officers to Operations Malone and Brontide, arresting several hundred students for their involvement in anti-fees protests - subjecting them to dawn raids, long months of bail and even investigation by counter terrorism officers. In July Francis Fernie was jailed by a Crown Court Judge for 12 months for throwing two placard sticks at riot police during the TUC anti-cuts march. Charlie Gilmour was given 16 months for sitting on the bonnet of a car and allegedly throwing a bin during an anti-fees demonstration. Haven’t Bullingdon club members escaped scot free for worse? Protesters have been demonized by the same Murdoch press which turns a blind eye to police violence. Defending his force's excessive policing, former Chief Commissioner Stephenson also attacked protesters as "thugs" and promised a "full criminal investigation" following the 9 December anti-fees demonstration. Yet he had no problem employing the former deputy editor of News of the World, Neil Wallis, to advise him at time when decisions were made to drop any further enquiries into the hacking scandal. We must not accept this relationship between the police and the press, which ignores each others' crimes while criminalising our right to protest. Sir Paul Stephenson led a force that has dedicated far more resources to hounding protesters than investigating the real criminals employed by Murdoch. The stream of resignations and arrests caused by this scandal should not detract from the injustices that continue to be perpetrated by the police and their friends in the Murdoch press. We demand that all prosecutions brought against protesters, as a result of investigations by this tainted force and charging decisions by the Crown Prosecution Service, be dropped immediately and that an inquiry be held into the process that has led to punitive sentences being meted out by the judiciary to those already convicted. Initial signatories include: - Hannah Dee, Chair Defend the Right to Protest national campaign - Tony Benn - Michael Mansfield QC - Louise Christian, Lawyer - Mark Thomas, Comedian - Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ General Secretary - Liam Burns, NUS President - John McDonnell MP - Katy Clark MP - Len McCluskey, Unite General Secretary - Billy Hayes, CWU President - Lee Hall, Screenwriter Billy Elliot - Jody McIntyre, Equality Movement - The Haldane Society of Socialist Lawyers - Zita Holbourne, PCS NEC, BARAC (Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts) - Nina Power, Senior Lecturer Roehampton University - Alan Gibbons, author - Mark Bergfeld, Education Activist Network, NUS NEC - Kanja Sesay NUS Black Students - Jim Wolfreys UCU NEC - Laurie Penny, Journalist for New Internationalist - Michael Chessum, National Campaign Against Fees & Cuts/ NUS NEC - Claire Solomon, ULU President

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