London student beaten by police in 2010 strikes is still seeking justice nine years later
Alfie was left with a brain bleed
29-year-old Kingston University student Alfie Meadows was beaten with a police officer's baton so badly in the 2010 strikes that he was left with a brain bleed. Nine years on, the police officer is still yet to face disciplinary consequences for his actions.
In 2010, Alfie was a 20 years old and studying for his undergraduate degree at the University of Middlesex. He was among 10,000 demonstrators who took to the streets in central London against increased tuition fees.
During an outbreak of violent action near Parliament square he was struck in the head and suffered a brain bleed, needing emergency surgery that night and 50 staples in his head.
Detective constable Mark Alston, who allegedly struck a student protestor in the head with a baton at the 2010 tuition fee protests, is finally facing disciplinary action nine years after the assault.
Nearly a decade later, a gross misconduct hearing has finally begun into the officer’s conduct, charged with using his baton in a "violent, uncontrolled manner", and the use of unreasonable force.
He is accused of using his baton "to deliver a number of downward strikes at head height toward a group of demonstrators."
Alston’s statement disagrees, saying that "he wielded the baton but denies that it was in a dangerous manner or disproportionate in light of circumstances he was operating." He also denies hitting Mr Meadows or anyone on the head with it.
The incident followed disorder outbreaks at other student protests which say the Metropolitan police "kettle" teenagers after officers were criticised for their response to vandalism at the Millbank Conservative Campaign Headquarters, which had previously been occupied by the students.
The Court heard that the demonstration near Parliament Square had started peacefully, but "deteriorated" by the afternoon, and were shown footage of protestors shouting abuse, before some used metal fences to batter riot police officers to try to force through their lines.
The Court also saw in footage that Meadows was near the police line but was "backing away from the obvious danger in front of him" at this point.
The trial comes after years of the City of London Police trying to stop the hearing taking place. The Court heard that when the Independent office for Police Conduct (IOPC) identified Alston in footage in 2013, the City of London Police "determined that DC Alston had no case to answer over misconduct" and didn’t accept the recommendation that he should be subjected to a misconduct hearing for potential gross misconduct.
City of London police attempted to launch a judicial review on the basis the decision was ‘irrational’, which was thrown out by the High Court in October 2018.
A last ditch attempt to stop the hearing was made by Alton after this, making an application to the misconduct panel that a hearing would be "unfair" given the time since the incident, which was rejected.
Meadows, now 29, is due to give evidence today. He told The Independent: "After nearly dying at the hands of the police in a protest against tuition fees and austerity in 2010 I have had to wait almost a decade for accountability.
"The delay to justice is an experience shared by many who have suffered state violence and raises serious questions about police accountability."