Compensation and apology from Metropolitan Police following unlawful arrest of union official
The settlement comes after Franck Magennis was detained and handcuffed for enquiring about the legal basis of the threat of arrest made by the police
The Metropolitan Police has issued a formal apology and paid £3,000 to Franck Magennis, barrister at Garden Court Chambers and former Legal Officer of trade union United Voices of the World (UVW), following his unlawful arrest outside St George’s University Hospital on 13 January 2020.
Franck Magennis was attending a lawful picket line outside the hospital in south London, which the police attended in large numbers. Police officers were distributing leaflets on behalf of the University in an attempt to dissipate the lawful picket line and threatened those on the picket line and union officials with arrest unless they left the premises. In his then role of Legal Officer Franck questioned the legal basis of the threat of arrest and as consequence was arrested, handcuffed and searched by police.
In addition, the police agreed to pay a further £2,000 to UVW for breaches of articles 10 and 11, Freedom of Expression and Freedom of Assembly and Association, of the European Convention on Human Rights. The threat of arrest intimidated union members and as a result the planned two weeks of picketing was muted.
Susie Labinjoh, Partner at Hodge Jones & Allen, who represented Franck and UVW said: “Magennis’s arrest raises a multitude of key constitutional issues. It is vital that trade union members are not criminalised for going on strike and that people are not arbitrarily arrested. The Metropolitan Police must be held accountable for its actions to ensure that the threat as arrest is not used as weapon to dissuade union members from their legal right to picket. This outcome is a step in the right direction.”
Franck Magennis said: “At a moment when a growing number of workers are resorting to industrial action to combat the cost-of-living crisis, this victory sends an important message to the police: respect our picket lines.”
Petros Elia, General Secretary United Voices of the World, said: “This victory reaffirms every union member’s right to picket and strike free from intimidation. The Met Police has apologised for the arrest of a union official as he exercised his right to support a picket and for the unacceptable way they conducted themselves, causing significant distress in the process.
“And by settling UVW’s legal claim they seem to have acknowledged our view that aggressively dispersing our picket was a violation of our human rights, our freedom of expression and freedom to picket and protest. This has huge implications for the wider union movement at a pivotal moment when workers are exercising their right to strike up and down the country amid a cost-of-living crisis. We hope it will send the message that we know our rights and we defend them.”