Page last updated at 10:50 GMT, Tuesday, 8 September 2009 11:50 UK

Hunt protesters get police payout

Eleven anti-hunt protesters have been given a total of £38,300 in damages from Derbyshire Police.

The force made the out-of-court settlement after admitting its policing of a demonstration in January 2008 was heavy handed.

Lawyers said protesters had been wrongfully arrested and imprisoned after they had peacefully followed the Meynell and South Staffordshire Hunt.

No charges were brought against the Hunt Saboteurs Association members.

They had been following a few fields behind the hunt.

Police vans and the force helicopter were sent to the hunt, which goes through Ashbourne, after the protesters were seen.

They were chased by police and arrested before each protester was handcuffed to another and forced to walk across several fields, the solicitor said.

The protesters were held at Derby police station overnight, interviewed and released on bail.

'Unlawful arrests'

Ifitkhar Manzoor, of Irwin Mitchell solicitors, said: "My clients were arrested under the Trade Union Regulations Act for disrupting a lawful activity.

"Sending several police cars and a helicopter to confront a group of peaceful hunt protesters seems to be a little over the top and the police need to ensure they have cause to make arrests before they take innocent people into custody.

"The issue for hunt saboteurs is, of course, that it has to be done in a lawful and meaningful basis and if they do break the law then of course police have power to arrest.

"On this particular occasion we say the police made unlawful arrests."

In a statement, Derbyshire Police said: "Derbyshire Constabulary can confirm that it has come to an out-of-court settlement relating to the arrest of 11 people in January last year.

"A claim for unlawful arrest and detention was made against the force and an early offer of settlement was made. A total of £38,300 compensation was agreed.

"The force and individual officers will learn from the mistake."

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