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Sunday, 28 April, 2002, 16:48 GMT 17:48 UK
Police sued over May Day protest
Last year's May Day protest
The police held crowds for hours in central London
Two people caught up in police action during last year's May Day protest in London are to sue the police for wrongful detention.

The test cases will be lodged at the High Court in London on Monday, said the pair's lawyer.

Thousands of people were held for seven hours by riot police in Oxford Circus during last May's demonstration.


The police had no reasonable grounds to detain everyone

Solicitor Sadiq Khan

It will be argued that Lois Austin and Geoffrey Saxby were falsely imprisoned by the Metropolitan Police and that their detention was in breach of the European Convention of Human Rights.

Ms Austin, 32, was not allowed to pick up her son from a crèche.

Mr Saxby, 44, alleges police ignored him when told them he was not involved in the demonstration.

Solicitor Sadiq Khan said: "The behaviour of the police on May 1, 2001 demands close scrutiny.

"The police had no reasonable grounds to detain everyone, or to detain the thousands of people for the period of time they did.

Protest preparations

"The actions of the police were neither necessary nor proportionate."

Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Tory leader at the time, William Hague, united in praising the police response to the protests.

Meanwhile police are preparing for this year's May Day protest.

On Friday they appealed to an anti-capitalist groups to work with the police.

Assistant Metropolitan Police Commissioner Michael Todd said that up to 6,000 officers would be deployed on the day.

This is a similar number to last year, when 10,000 protesters effectively shut down London's largest shopping district.

This year the wealthy area of Mayfair has been identified as a potential target for trouble.

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