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Met police agree six-figure payout to student hit by baton at protest | Metropolitan police

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The Metropolitan police have apologised and agreed to pay a six-figure settlement to a man who needed emergency brain surgery after being hit by an officer’s baton during the 2010 university tuition fees protests.

Alfie Meadows, then a 20-year-old philosophy student at Middlesex University, sustained a brain injury after he was struck on the head during demonstrations against the tripling of tuition fees. He needed more than 100 staples in his head and was left with a large scar.

After the protest, Meadows was arrested and prosecuted three times for violent disorder. He was unanimously acquitted in 2013.

He brought proceedings against the Met in 2013 for damages including aggravated and exemplary damages for assault and battery, false imprisonment and breaches of his human rights.

Alfie Meadows outside Kingston crown court in March 2012. He was prosecuted for violent disorder three times before being acquitted in 2013. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

The case was paused until 2019 while the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigated the incident. This summer, the case concluded and Meadows secured a six-figure settlement from the Met.

In a letter seen by the Guardian, Insp Andy O’Donnell, of the Met’s directorate of professional standards, told Meadows: “I am writing on behalf of the Metropolitan police service to apologise for the serious injuries you suffered.”

It acknowledged that Meadows was protesting peacefully and not acting aggressively towards any police officer, and that the baton strike that almost killed him was dangerous and unjustified.

In 2019, DC Mark Alston, of the City of London police, was cleared of using unreasonable force against Meadows in a misconduct hearing. A panel concluded that the person who had struck Meadows was an unidentified Metropolitan police officer.

In the letter, O’Donnell said: “I sincerely regret, despite extensive inquiries, the officer who struck you did not come forward, could not be identified and has not been held to account for their actions.”

Meadows’ lawyer, Daniel Lemberger Cooper, said: “The Metropolitan police have finally apologised and agreed to pay Alfie a large sum of compensation for the life-altering impact of the actions of a police officer during its operation that day.”

Noting the impact of the baton strike on Meadows, his lawyer said: “Undergoing emergency life-saving brain surgery and the ongoing trauma of the assault deeply affected Alfie’s studies, career and mental health.

“This impact has been aggravated by the length of time it has taken to get to this point, through which he faced numerous prosecutions, endured a lengthy investigation by the IOPC and a judicial review by City of London police attempting to prevent police misconduct proceedings, and the proceedings themselves.”

Injuries sustained by Alfie Meadows after being hit by a police baton.
Injuries sustained by Alfie Meadows after being hit by a police baton. Photograph: Justice for Alfie Meadows/PA Wire

In response to the Met’s apology, Meadows said: “In 2010, the coalition government turned to the police to violently crush resistance to its austerity programme. I came close to joining Kevin Gately, Blair Peach, Ian Tomlinson and others who have been killed on protests by riot police and in police custody, including Brian Douglas who died after a police officer struck him on the head with a baton.

“After I was seriously injured by a police officer, the entire institution closed ranks, attempting to blame and criminalise me, defend its officer, and delay and deny accountability.

“In the light of recent reports confirming that the Met is institutionally racist, misogynist, homophobic and corrupt, it beggars belief that they continue to receive public money to abuse the public. But the current government’s response has been to provide them with even more draconian powers to crack down on protest. Without fundamental change we will see no end to injustice at the hands of the police.”

During the misconduct hearing against Alston in 2019, Meadows said being struck by the baton led to “excruciating pain”.

“The baton swung from high to low. It was coming straight towards my head. I instinctively span around because I thought I was about to be hit by the baton and as soon as I span around I was struck by the baton,” he told the hearing.

“I was struck on the top right of my head and it was incredibly hard and painful. I saw flashing lights and it was the most painful thing I have ever experienced.”

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police said: “In June, the Met apologised and settled a civil action following a claim in August 2020 by Mr Alfie Meadows.”

The spokesperson said the Met acknowledged that Meadows “was protesting peacefully and the use of force against him was unjustified.

“Between 2010 and 2019, a number of investigations and proceedings took place including criminal proceedings, independent investigations by the then IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission], and a misconduct hearing. None were able to identify the officer in question.”


The Metropolitan police have apologised and agreed to pay a six-figure settlement to a man who needed emergency brain surgery after being hit by an officer’s baton during the 2010 university tuition fees protests.

Alfie Meadows, then a 20-year-old philosophy student at Middlesex University, sustained a brain injury after he was struck on the head during demonstrations against the tripling of tuition fees. He needed more than 100 staples in his head and was left with a large scar.

After the protest, Meadows was arrested and prosecuted three times for violent disorder. He was unanimously acquitted in 2013.

He brought proceedings against the Met in 2013 for damages including aggravated and exemplary damages for assault and battery, false imprisonment and breaches of his human rights.

Alfie Meadows outside Kingston crown court in March 2012
Alfie Meadows outside Kingston crown court in March 2012. He was prosecuted for violent disorder three times before being acquitted in 2013. Photograph: Steve Parsons/PA

The case was paused until 2019 while the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) investigated the incident. This summer, the case concluded and Meadows secured a six-figure settlement from the Met.

In a letter seen by the Guardian, Insp Andy O’Donnell, of the Met’s directorate of professional standards, told Meadows: “I am writing on behalf of the Metropolitan police service to apologise for the serious injuries you suffered.”

It acknowledged that Meadows was protesting peacefully and not acting aggressively towards any police officer, and that the baton strike that almost killed him was dangerous and unjustified.

In 2019, DC Mark Alston, of the City of London police, was cleared of using unreasonable force against Meadows in a misconduct hearing. A panel concluded that the person who had struck Meadows was an unidentified Metropolitan police officer.

In the letter, O’Donnell said: “I sincerely regret, despite extensive inquiries, the officer who struck you did not come forward, could not be identified and has not been held to account for their actions.”

Meadows’ lawyer, Daniel Lemberger Cooper, said: “The Metropolitan police have finally apologised and agreed to pay Alfie a large sum of compensation for the life-altering impact of the actions of a police officer during its operation that day.”

Noting the impact of the baton strike on Meadows, his lawyer said: “Undergoing emergency life-saving brain surgery and the ongoing trauma of the assault deeply affected Alfie’s studies, career and mental health.

“This impact has been aggravated by the length of time it has taken to get to this point, through which he faced numerous prosecutions, endured a lengthy investigation by the IOPC and a judicial review by City of London police attempting to prevent police misconduct proceedings, and the proceedings themselves.”

Injuries sustained by Alfie Meadows after being hit by a police baton.
Injuries sustained by Alfie Meadows after being hit by a police baton. Photograph: Justice for Alfie Meadows/PA Wire

In response to the Met’s apology, Meadows said: “In 2010, the coalition government turned to the police to violently crush resistance to its austerity programme. I came close to joining Kevin Gately, Blair Peach, Ian Tomlinson and others who have been killed on protests by riot police and in police custody, including Brian Douglas who died after a police officer struck him on the head with a baton.

“After I was seriously injured by a police officer, the entire institution closed ranks, attempting to blame and criminalise me, defend its officer, and delay and deny accountability.

“In the light of recent reports confirming that the Met is institutionally racist, misogynist, homophobic and corrupt, it beggars belief that they continue to receive public money to abuse the public. But the current government’s response has been to provide them with even more draconian powers to crack down on protest. Without fundamental change we will see no end to injustice at the hands of the police.”

During the misconduct hearing against Alston in 2019, Meadows said being struck by the baton led to “excruciating pain”.

“The baton swung from high to low. It was coming straight towards my head. I instinctively span around because I thought I was about to be hit by the baton and as soon as I span around I was struck by the baton,” he told the hearing.

“I was struck on the top right of my head and it was incredibly hard and painful. I saw flashing lights and it was the most painful thing I have ever experienced.”

A spokesperson for the Metropolitan police said: “In June, the Met apologised and settled a civil action following a claim in August 2020 by Mr Alfie Meadows.”

The spokesperson said the Met acknowledged that Meadows “was protesting peacefully and the use of force against him was unjustified.

“Between 2010 and 2019, a number of investigations and proceedings took place including criminal proceedings, independent investigations by the then IPCC [Independent Police Complaints Commission], and a misconduct hearing. None were able to identify the officer in question.”

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