LONDON’S police force has issued a grovelling apology and paid compensation to a barrister and former trade union official for arresting, handcuffing and searching him on a picket line during a strike by hospital workers.
Members of United Voices of the World (UVW) union were taking strike action at London’s St George’s University Hospital in Tooting in south London in 2020 over poor working conditions.
Franck Magennis, who at the time was head of UVW’s legal department, was on the picket line.
UVW said the police distributed leaflets to pickets and union officials on behalf of hospital management, then told them to disperse or be arrested.
Mr Magennis asked the officers on what legal basis were they being threatened with arrest — and they arrested him. Police then dispersed the picket.
Both Mr Magennis and the UVW launched legal action against the Metropolitan Police.
The force has apologised to Mr Magennis and paid him compensation of £3,000. It also paid the union £2,000 in compensation in an out-of-court settlement after UVW accused the police of breaking sections of the European Convention on Human Rights.
The police apologised to Mr Magennis for “the way you were treated when you were arrested, put in handcuffs and searched,” and said “the level of service has fallen below the requisite standard.”
The apology, which was signed by Inspector Andy O’Donnell of the Met’s directorate of professional standards civil actions and inquests, concluded: “I would therefore like to express my regret for the distress that you have suffered as a result of this incident.”
Mr Magennis, who is a barrister, said: “This victory should send the message that we know our rights and that if the police show up and try and do the bosses’ bidding, if they set a foot wrong, if they make a single mistake, we will come down on them like a ton of bricks.”
UVW general secretary Petros Elia said: “We hope that cops — and the Met in particular with their rancid history of racism, discrimination and violent union-busting — take note of this win and think twice before coming for our or any union members again.”
The force was invited to comment.