Page last updated at 15:43 GMT, Tuesday, 28 October 2008

MPs call for climate camp inquiry

Police restrain a young woman outside the camp
Police made 100 arrests during the week-long Climate Camp

MPs have accused police of using aggressive tactics against protestors at a climate change camp in Kent.

Norman Baker, MP for Lewes, East Sussex, called for an independent inquiry into policing at the camp near E.On's Kingsnorth power station.

More than 1,000 officers from around the country were involved in policing at the camp in August.

Police minister Vernon Coaker said he believed the police had "struck the right balance" at the week-long event.

Mr Baker told BBC South East the police response to peaceful protestors was "unnecessary and over the top".

"I was the first MP to attend Kingsnorth and I was, frankly, shocked by what I saw in terms of police tactics," he said.

I have a constituent and a friend who was arrested at Kingsnorth for so-called aggressively picking up litter
MP David Drew

On Monday, several MPs told ministers they were concerned about the 5.9m police operation.

During the House of Commons debate, Mr Baker said: "I personally witnessed unnecessarily aggressive policing, unprovoked violence against peaceful protesters and an extraordinary number of police on site - and tactics such as confiscating toilet rolls, board games and clown costumes."

Labour's David Drew, MP for Stroud, added: "I have a constituent and a friend who was arrested at Kingsnorth for so-called aggressively picking up litter.

"Will you at least look at the way in which these major demonstrations are handled and certainly the way in which people who do want to peacefully demonstrate about something they feel very strongly about have their rights secured."

'Difficult balance'

Mr Coaker said the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) was available to look into complaints.

He said: "It's a difficult balance to strike but I believe in this case the police did strike the right balance."

Of the 100 people arrested, 46 were charged with offences ranging from obstruction and public order offences to the possession of a bladed weapon, he said.

The current Kingsnorth power station is due to close in 2015 and E.On wants to replace it with two new coal units which, it claims, will be 20% cleaner.

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A hundred campaigners were arrested during the week-long Climate Camp in August




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