A group of antifascist protesters are calling for a public inquiry into the policing of last year’s English Defence League rally in Bolton.
Justice4bolton claim Unite Against Fascist members, who were protesting against the EDL in Victoria Square last March, were “mistreated” by police. The group is now calling for a public inquiry into the policing of the event, with particular focus on the arrest of protestor Alan Clough.
Alan Clough, of Ainsworth Road, Radcliffe, was due to stand trial at Bolton Magistrates’ Court accused of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour at the rally, but the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to proceed after viewing video footage of the rally. Justice4bolton alleges that the footage shows Mr Clough being pushed by police officers and hit on the head with a baton before being pushed to the ground and arrested.
An independent investigation into the day’s events, which is being led by the Independent Police Complaints Commission, is already underway, including the circumstances of Mr Clough’s arrest.
Justice4bolton also wants the government to create “enforceable procedures” on how to police protests and is asking the trade unions to fund their list of demands, or action plan.
A spokesman for the group said: “In light of all of these incidents, and the treatment of many others who have chosen not to pursue their treatment through legal means but have expressed very serious concerns to Justice4bolton, it is plain the policing of the demonstration was blighted not only by the misconduct of individual rogue officers but by organisational failings on the part of Greater Manchester Police.
“Such failings must be addressed at an organisational level and the lessons learned from this — and other — protests so the police change the way they police protests.”
The group held a meeting in the Houses of Parliament last week in which they agreed their list of demands. Bolton MPs David Crausby and Julie Hilling have backed the group’s action plan, and said it was proper for the day’s events to be investigated.
A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said it would be inappropriate to comment until the IPCC investigation had concluded.