VIDEO: Investigation after anti-fracking protester claims he was unlawfully arrested at Barton Moss
THE actions of a Greater Manchester Police officer are being investigated after a doctor claims he was unlawfully arrested at an anti-fracking protest.
Dr Steven Peers was videoing the demonstration at Barton Moss, Salford, and was arrested for refusing a breath test after a police officer accused him of driving to the site drunk.
Sgt Dave Kehoe is seen on video saying: “You've had a drink this morning. Where's your car? You've just said to me you've had two drinks.”
The doctor said he told the officer he had been drinking tea, not alcohol.
Dr Peers was charged but the case was withdrawn by the Crown Prosecution Service because there was insufficient evidence.
A police spokesman said: "Greater Manchester Police has received a complaint about this video, which officers from the professional standards branch are investigating.”
Tony Lloyd, police and crime commissioner for Greater Manchester, added: “There have been a number of incidents referred to GMP’s professional standards department, where serious allegations have been made about police conduct at Barton Moss.
“There is legitimate public concern over this operation and it is right and proper that allegations of police misconduct are investigated fully and thoroughly.
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“I have — publicly and privately — called on the chief constable to provide assurances that the operation at Barton Moss is proportionate.
"It is a complex situation where police have to balance the legitimate rights of people to lawfully protest with the rights of those who live and work in the local area.
“Given there are active investigations into the conduct of police, it is difficult for me to say more at this stage, but I expect the outcomes to be made public and if misconduct has occurred, appropriate action to be taken.”
Ch Con Peter Fahy, GMP's most senior officer, has hit out at the amount of time and money the force has spent policing the protest - more than £600,000 has been spent so far.
He said: “The cost of this operation is met from our normal budget and means that officers on duty at this protest are not patrolling their beats or carrying out operations to investigate crime.
“We have to be there to ensure the protest is peaceful and to balance the rights of the protestors and those wanting to carry out drilling on the site, which are both lawful activities. The police are stuck in the middle.
“For all the hundreds of hours of policing we have received only 21 complaints, five of which are from the same person. We take this seriously and will investigate any complaints thoroughly.”
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