THREE “anti-fascist” demonstrators arrested at an English Defence League protest in Bolton have been awarded payouts of thousands of pounds from police.
Jason Travis, Dane Kelly and Paul Sutcliffe were among 74 people arrested during the Victoria Square demonstration in 2010, which saw clashes between about 2,000 EDL supporters and 1,500 members of Unite Against Fascism (UAF).
The trio lodged civil claims against Greater Manchester Police (GMP) based on allegations ranging from false imprisonment, malicious prosecution, assault and homophobic abuse.
GMP has now agreed to settle with them out of court, but does not admit any liability.
The organisation Justice4Bolton — which was formed in the aftermath of the demonstration to defend all the UAF protesters arrested — said Mr Travis and Mr Sutcliffe each received £12,000, and Mr Kelly was awarded £15,000 — although GMP would not confirm the figures.
Mr Kelly said: “When I was told that the police's solicitors had offered a settlement I felt overwhelming relief after years of worry and anxiety.
“In my opinion the sum that was offered reflected the strength of my case against the police.
“Fundamentally the policing of the UAF demonstration in Bolton was frightening.”
Mr Sutcliffe said: “Justice4Bolton discovered footage of my arrest and, after viewing the footage and having a word with the officers, the prosecution solicitor at the court decided to offer no evidence.
“The police have had to confront the reality that surveillance is a two-way street, even if currently the state’s side of the street is a good deal wider.”
Mr Travis said: “Does this hold the police to account? The payout only begins to do that, but it is still worth standing up for.
“What we really need is a public inquiry into policing of demonstrations.”
Michael Oswald of law firm Bhatt Murphy, which has been acting on behalf of the men, said: “It is a reflection of the bravery and tenacity of our clients that, more than three years after the attempts made to criminalise their peaceful opposition to the EDL, they have by way of these settlements finally been able to achieve the accountability and vindication they have sought.”
A GMP spokesman said: “During the EDL/UAF demonstration in Bolton in 2010, dozens of people were arrested for a variety of offences.
“A number of these people were charged and subsequently convicted, some had no further action taken against them and others were dealt with by other means, such as through cautions or fixed penalty notices.
“In addition we have reached out of court settlements with a small number of people arrested that day that brought civil claims and it was a term of the settlement reached with them that there would be no admission of liability.
“As the force has publicly stated on a number of occasions, the officers involved in policing the protest that day did so in an extremely difficult and challenging situation against large groups engaged in committing disorder and acting, at times, with extreme violence towards the police.”