Footage shows officer allegedly beating Alan Clough before his arrest at protest against English Defence League in Bolton
An investigation is under way after a police officer was filmed hitting an anti-fascist demonstrator in the face during a far-right rally. Alan Clough, 63, from Radcliffe, Bury, was protesting against the English Defence League (EDL) rally in Bolton in March when he was struck, fell to the ground and was subsequently arrested.
He had been due to stand trial at Bolton magistrates' court on Wednesday accused of a charge of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour. But the Crown Prosecution Service dropped the case 24 hours before it was due to go ahead after viewing footage from the rally, filmed by Granada TV.
It shows police in high visibility jackets pushing back crowds of protesters before a skirmish breaks out, with riot police and mounted officers involved. Batons are drawn and Clough is punched by an officer in riot gear who is lashing out at demonstrators. He is then dragged away and arrested.
The campaigning group justice4bolton claims police used heavy-handed tactics on the day. They say the footage shows Clough being pushed by police officers and struck on the head with a baton before he was pushed backwards to the ground and arrested. Justice4bolton said it has received an overwhelming number of reports claiming violent behaviour on the part of police at the rally.
The CPS said: "Having viewed footage received from the defence team, we felt there was no longer a realistic prospect of securing a conviction. Given this, the correct decision was made to drop the charge against Mr Clough."
A Greater Manchester police spokeswoman said: "GMP has received a complaint in relation to footage which appears to show a man being inappropriately struck during his arrest at the EDL protest in Bolton. The footage is now being viewed by officers from Greater Manchester police's professional standards branch. An internal investigation is now under way, as a result it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage."
Protesters gathered outside the magistrates' court on Wednesday to display footage of the incident.
Clough attended the demonstration against the EDL in Bolton in March with four men and three women, aged between 58 and 70. As police officers moved in on the demonstration, it is claimed some became aggressive. Clough was forced to lie face down on the floor and his hands were handcuffed behind his back.
A spokesperson for justice4bolton said: "The latest footage must be seen against the background of an overwhelming number of reports already received by justice4bolton describing violent and oppressive behaviour on the part of police on 20 March. The emerging body of reports already received raises serious questions, not only about the acts of individual officers, but about the broader approach taken by the police towards those seeking to stand up against racism and fascism."
Alan Clough said he was relieved with the outcome of the court case, but had mixed feelings as he "would have liked to prove my innocence in court". He described the wait for the court case as "seven long months" and expressed relief that it was now over, adding: "But I was never really worried about going to court because I knew I'd done nothing wrong and was hopeful in the end that justice would have been done."
Around 2,000 members of the EDL gathered alongside 1,500 members of Unite Against Fascism at Victoria Square in Bolton town centre. There were more than 60 arrests and several injuries reported. The EDL claims it protests against militant Islam and sharia law but the UAF says it promotes racism and fascism.
The matter could be referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission following the force's own investigation.
Thanks to NewsHound for the heads-up