SOAS protest trials collapse after video contradicts police lies

Two more cases collapsed at Highbury Corner Magistrates' Court on Monday, 31 October when police offered no evidence against student demonstrators following the acquittal of a third protestor the previous week.

Aaron Peters and Ashok Kumar, both PhD students, had the cases against them dismissed after dramatic video and photo evidence was presented in a related case against Simon Behrman on the Thursday, 27 October.

The footage and photos found on the Internet by Kumar's solicitor, Matt Foot, directly contradict the witness statements of six police officers. "Five arrests were instigated by primarily one police officer who basically lied," said Peters in an interview with this writer.

The arrests were made at a demonstration against David Willetts, the universities minister, who gave an address at an event on the campus of the School of African and Oriental Studies on 13 June. The 2010 Higher Education Act, enabling universities to charge fees of up to £9000 per year, became law under the direction of Willetts.

Scotland Yard told this reporter: "Between 100 and 150 people attended a demonstration and additional police officers were called to attend after a number of protestors entered the building to gain access to the buildings' basement."

In a video clip uploaded to YouTube on 20 August, police constable Paul McAuslan who is clearly identified by his shoulder ID number, "PC 138 EK", is seen initiating a physical altercation with a demonstrator before pinning him to the ground amid outcries from fellow protestors.

Guy Aitchison, who is a friend of Peters and Kumar, was in court on 31 October and tweeted: "The officer in question had said he was assaulted by Ashok. The video showed it was the other way round." Scotland Yard did not comment on the video and photo evidence in its statement, confirming only that it had not offered any evidence against either Peters, Kumar or Behrman.

Peters and Kumar were charged with obstructing and resisting PC McAuslan in the execution of his duty, however Peters says Kumar was initially charged with "assaulting a police officer". Behrman was charged with the more serious offence of Violent Disorder under Section 4 of the Public Order Act.

Peters believes he has good grounds for bringing a case against the police for malicious prosecution and said he and the other acquitted parties will be seeking legal advice in this matter.