Campaigner wins apology after arrest

4th July 2006......   'Pictured peace campaigner Lindis Percy speaks during demonstrations outside Menwith Hill.
4th July 2006...... 'Pictured peace campaigner Lindis Percy speaks during demonstrations outside Menwith Hill.

A human rights campaigner from Harrogate has received compensation and an apology after she was wrongfully arrested during last year’s Olympic torch festivities in the town.

Lindis Percy, best known as the face of protests outside American spy base Menwith Hill, won a legal battle against West Yorkshire Police after it admitted breaching her human rights.

The force has apologised after admitting wrongful arrest and false imprisonment, assault and human rights infringements - specifically the right to liberty; freedom of expression; and freedom of association and assembly.

“I was surprised and shocked by the actions of West Yorkshire police,” said Ms Percy. “The outcome of this claim restores the precious right to protest peacefully”.

Ms Percy filed a complaint after she was arrested in the midst of Olympic torch celebrations as the relay passed through the town.

West Yorkshire Police had been drafted in to help local officers through the procession on June 19. The internal Police Standards Report has now admonished all police officers from blame.

The legal claim was brought by Harrogate Solicitors, Truth Legal.

Andrew Gray, solicitor, said: “My client was arrested for alleged breach of the peace by West Yorkshire Police in order to stop her from exercising her freedom of expression.

“Such heavy-handed and arbitrary use of State force was wholly unnecessary in the circumstances.

“Although the actions of the police officers on the day were unnecessary, praise must go to West Yorkshire Police for apologising to Ms Percy and for compensating her appropriately. We hope that lessons will be learned.”

Veteran campaigner Lindis Percy is joint coordinator of the Campaign for the Accountability of American Bases (CAAB).

A former West Yorkshire nurse, midwife and health visitor, she has been arrested at the Menwith Hill base hundreds of times.

She has been fined, imprisoned and electronically tagged, and even featured on TV world-wide when she climbed the gates of Buckingham Palace in protest against a visit by then US President George W Bush.

A West Yorkshire Police spokesperson said: “This lady was arrested in good faith following a complaint by a member of the public.

“When the evidence was reviewed it was decided that the grounds for arrest were not sufficient and consequently liability was admitted by West Yorkshire Police and an apology was given.

“Internal investigations were carried out into the circumstances of the arrest but no further action was deemed to be necessary.”