A Southampton animal rights and environment campaigner has finally won his case against Hampshire police over his arrest, two years ago, for protesting outside McDonald's fast food store in the city centre.
John Vetterlein has accepted an offer of 1,500 pounds (plus all legal costs) to settle out of court his action against the police for assault, unlawful arrest and false imprisonment.
John was taking part in a placard and leafleting protest outside the McDonald's store when he was grabbed from behind by two uniformed police officers and dragged away from McDonald's. On being told that his behaviour was likely to cause a breach of the peace, John attempted to explain that he was protesting peacefully, lawfully and in accordance with procedures agreed between police and protesters. But the officers were not prepared to listen and arrested him.
John said after receiving his cheque: "This is great news for civil rights in this country. I was eventually forced, reluctantly, to bring this action against the police for two main reasons. First, there was the unprofessional and rude conduct of the arresting officers. Second, and more important, my arrest challenged our rights as citizens to take part in lawful and peaceful protest, and our rights of free expression.
I made two attempts to resolve this dispute amicably and without recourse to legal remedies. But my efforts were rebuffed by a stubbornness that was totally uncalled for. The police seem unable to say, "Sorry, we got it wrong" until forced to do so by the prospect of court proceedings."
John has given £500 of his compensation to the McLibel Support Campaign.