But why has Lindis, and me as her solicitor, been in the news of late? Because I obtained an apology and compensation for Lindis from West Yorkshire Police, following an incident during the Olympic Torch procession of 2012.
This is what happened: Lindis, a Harrogate resident, heard that when the Olympic Torch was to pass through Harrogate on 19 June 2012, American military personnel were going to be the guard of honour: the militarisation of a once in a lifetime event. Unsettled by this, Lindis went into Harrogate town centre to quietly protest; Lindis also wanted to see the passing of the Olympic Torch.
As the CCTV footage reveals, the police (West Yorkshire Police were policing the event) were aware (probably via surveillance) that Lindis was going to be in Harrogate as a police officer approached Lindis and asked: “Is it Ms Percy?” From then on, Lindis was followed everywhere she went. In addition, West Yorkshire Police had a specialist video crew to monitor Lindis (the footage of which was wiped).
When Lindis found the US military personnel preparing their flags in a side street Lindis approached and spoke gently to the soldiers. Nobody complained. Then, without warning, Lindis was roughly pulled away by a police officer and surrounded by around five police officers. Understandably, Lindis felt intimidated.
After being allowed to leave Lindis was closely followed by four officers everywhere she went. Speeded up on CCTV, the footage is most comical, resembling a Benny Hill sketch.
Sometime later when Lindis returned to near where the US Military Personnel had been, she was arrested ‘to prevent a breach of the peace’. Handcuffs were aggressively applied, during which Lindis sustained a minor injury to her wrist. At no time was Lindis aggressive, as is her way. Lindis was told that two members of the public had complained about her.
Eventually, on this hot day, Lindis was put in a police van: she was never searched. Lindis was kept in the cage for 20 minutes before she was driven to the police station outside of Harrogate. Just as Lindis predicted, when she arrived at the police station she was de-arrested and then driven back into Harrogate: the Olympic Torch had passed. Lindis filed a complaint immediately.
Unsurprisingly, the internal Police Standards Report admonished any officer from blame. Unperturbed, Lindis decided to lodge a claim. With the assistance of London counsel, Anna Morris, a letter of claim was sent to West Yorkshire Police. To the credit of West Yorkshire Police’s legal department, liability was admitted and an apology given and compensation paid. For the record, West Yorkshire Police admitted to: wrongful arrest; false imprisonment; assault; and breaches of her human rights, specifically the right to liberty, freedom of expression and freedom of association and assembly.
Of course my client’s detractors will say that it was fair enough that West Yorkshire Police prevented my client from disrupting the passage of the Olympic Torch. Disrupting the event was not something my client would have done. With hindsight, what my client was doing was demonstrating against, amongst other things, the bugging of the German Chancellor’s phone. My client awaits Angela Merkel’s thanks….
(And Lindis will no doubt be embarrassed by what I am going to say, but I will say it anyway:) in years to come, school children will learn about Lindis Percy: history will judge her well. We all have a debt of gratitude to people like Lindis Percy.
Andrew Gray is a solicitor and founder of Truth Legal