PC behind 'wild dogs' claim about Sheffield pensioners' protest faces gross misconduct hearing

George Arthur and Tony Nuttall, who were arrested during the protest and later charged (Ross Parry / SWNS Group)
George Arthur and Tony Nuttall, who were arrested during the protest and later charged (Ross Parry / SWNS Group)
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A police officer who accused protesting pensioners in Sheffield of acting like a 'pack of wild dogs' faces a gross misconduct hearing next month.

A group calling themselves the Freedom Fighters, who are campaigning for pensioners in South Yorkshire to be granted free rail travel, staged what they say was a peaceful demonstration at Sheffield railway station in June 2014.

It ended with George Arthur, then 64, and Tony Nuttall, who was 65 at the time, being arrested and charged with obstruction and fare evasion - charges which were later dropped.

One of the British Transport Police (BTP) officers wrote in his arrest statement, which was submitted with the prosecution papers, that protesters had acted like a 'pack of wild dogs'.

He described the protest as 'one of the most volatile and nasty incidents' he had encountered in 11 years as a police officer.

Campaigners, however, accused the PC of lying in his statement and claimed he and other officers had been rude, used unlawful force and unfairly singled out one of the protesters.

British Transport Police (BTP) initially rejected all but one of the nine complaints, following an internal investigation.

But campaigners appealed to the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which found officers had a case to answer for all but two of the complaints and that one had a case to answer for gross misconduct.

An IPCC commissioner ruled she was not satisfied the level of force used that day had been 'proportionate' and said the arrest statement 'contains many inaccuracies that are simply not supported by the video footage'.

BTP said four of the officers had attended a misconduct meeting on June 9, when it was found none had a case to answer over their use of force.

It said a fifth officer is due to attend a misconduct hearing hearing next month.

BTP now holds misconduct hearings in public. But a spokesman said that because the incident dates back to 2014, when a different policy was in place, this one would take place behind closed doors.

The Freedom Riders said they plan to demonstrate outside the hearing, which it is understood will take place in York on July 31.

Fran Postlethwaite, a member of the Freedom Riders, said: "The BTP tried to frighten elderly people on our peaceful protest three years ago. We will not be silenced."

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