Political Police in South Wales Pay Up after Gestapo-like Harassment of BNP Leaflet Team
South Wales Police have settled out of court in four figure sums with five British National Party activists who were detained in 2006 after legally leafleting the Bonymaen area of Swansea, reports South Wales correspondent Clive Bennett.
“After four and a half years of wrangling and just a few weeks from going to court, South Wales police have decided to settle out of court,” Mr Bennett said.
“All of the ‘Swansea Five,’ as the BNP team became known, have received an out of court settlement, without prejudice of course, which includes a four figure lump sum and all costs.”
The drama started in May 2006, when, in the run-up to the last Wales Assembly elections, a team of activists were delivering BNP leaflets.
“Shortly after they had started leafleting, the Plaid candidate phoned the police and complained about the leaflets,” Mr Bennett explained.
“Subsequently the group became aware that they were being kept under surveillance and they were followed for more than half an hour by a police constable in a panda car.
“At 12 o’clock, just before the group had finished leafleting the area, several police vehicles arrived and arrested the whole team, confiscated their phones and leaflets and proceeded to load the whole group into a police van.
“They were taken to the police station where they individually locked up in police cells and interviewed one by one. They were asked about where their meetings are held and who is in the group,” he said.
“Then their photographs, fingerprints and DNA were taken. Once all that was done, they were sent back to the cells and only released at 1 am the next morning, some thirteen hours after the arrest.
“In addition, during the afternoon, the police took it upon themselves to go around the area which had been leafleted to ask residents to hand over the leaflets.
“Now if that was not a political move designed to put those residents off supporting the BNP, I cannot think what is,” Mr Bennett said.
Of course, no charges were ever made against any of the activists. Rightfully angry at this blatant Gestapo-like interference in the political process, the activists laid a formal complaint of false arrest and imprisonment.
To no-one’s surprise, the internal police investigation found “no fault” with their actions.
Not satisfied with this obvious cover-up, the activists then took out a private case against South Wales Police and sued them for damages. It is this action which has now been settled by the police with the out-of-court payments.
“But most important of all, I think it is safe to say that because of this action, the South Wales police will be less inclined to act quite so politically in the future,” Mr Bennett said.
“It may be a small win, but nevertheless an important one. Well done to the Swansea Five for their tenacity.”