Another Conspiracy that Wasn’t – the pre G20 Plymouth Arrests

April 29, 2009

A slightly dated story this one, but one which really, really needs airing.

You might recall that, on the eve of the G20 Summit in London, police down in Devon announced a coup. Five people had been arrested, the police announced, “in connection with a suspected plot to use explosives made from fireworks to disrupt the G20 summit.”

As the Guardian reported, “Paul Netherton, Devon and Cornwall assistant chief constable, said imitation handguns and an imitation Kalashnikov, as well as devices made from fireworks, had been seized.”

The five were arrested, “when [a] 25-year-old man was arrested for spray-painting on a wall in Plymouth city centre” leading police, to search “the man’s flat in Plymouth” where they “found imitation firearms, improvised explosives made of fireworks, and “material related to political ideology.”

It was all very worrying. A suspected plot to cause explosions as the world’s leaders jetted in? Political activists planning a terrorist spectacular. The fiends.

The story was carried by almost all major media outlets, providing cover for what turned out to be one of the most repressive policing operations the UK has ever seen. After all, with possible explosions and imitation firearms, who could say how violent the hippies could become?

Unfortunately for the authorities, after varying lengths of detention they were all released without charge (at least under terrorism legislation, which allowed police to hold them for days). Their lives had been disrupted, and they had been denied their right to political expression, while most of them now faced lesser charges as a result of police searches which would not have happened otherwise.

It really amounted to a gross abuse of police power. But what is more intriguing is the level of cooperation that occurred between Devon police and the Metropolitan Police.

As a Scotland Yard spokesman put it on the day before the Summit, “The Met has been in liaison with Devon and Cornwall police regarding their ongoing investigation into five people arrested over the weekend.” The question is, who instigated the “liaison” and how deep did it go?

After April 1 and the cover-up of Ian Tomlinson’s death, we simply can’t believe a word that spokespeople of the Met utter. The arrests were certainly mighty convenient for the authorities, who were intent on brutally breaking up whatever protests they faced the very next day.

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