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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 January, 2005, 16:40 GMT
Man 'feared Hillsborough repeat'
Police cordon during the 2001 event
Mr Saxby said he was unaware any protest was taking place
A man who was held in a crowd for six hours during May Day protests has told the High Court he feared a repeat of the Hillsborough football disaster.

Geoffrey Saxby was among thousands of protesters corralled by riot police in Oxford Circus, London, without food, drink or toilet facilities, in 2001.

He and Lois Austin are suing the Met for breaching the Human Rights Act.

About 150 other claimants are awaiting the outcome of the case. The Met is contesting the action.

On Tuesday Mr Saxby told Mr Justice Tugendhat that he was not a member of any political party or campaigning organisation, and had never attended a demonstration.

He said he was unaware of any protest taking place that day and it was only after watching some entertainers at Oxford Circus that he realised he was in a "potentially dangerous situation".

A woman in the crowd screamed at the police at the top of her voice, 'remember Hillsborough'
Geoffrey Saxby

"There was no trouble from the crowd or any indication of trouble arising, however, I looked around and saw the police lined up in a human chain across Regent Street.

"They started to push the crowd back for no reason at all and seemingly without any concern for our safety.

"A woman in the crowd screamed at the police at the top of her voice, "remember Hillsborough", which drew home to me the danger I was in."

Lois Austin told the court that as a member of the Socialist Party she had been to many May Day demonstrations and never seen "major disorder".

She said that she intended to stay for a few hours "to peacefully demonstrate against globalisation and capitalism".

'Extremely distressed'

Ms Austin said she became "extremely upset and worried" when she was not allowed to leave to collect her 11-month-old daughter and described the police as "rude and aggressive".

Although she was allowed to leave the area at 2130 BST she did not arrive at her home in Southwark, south London, until after midnight.

She explained that her daughter had been forced to go 16 hours without a proper feed and she was "extremely distressed and remained `clingy' for a week or so".

"I was subjected to unfair and humiliating treatment and the policing of this event was completely disproportionate to the behaviour and size of the crowd," she said.

A total of 96 fans died at Hillsborough at the start of the FA Cup semi-final between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on 15 April 1989.

The police argue the May Day containment was the lawful exercise of their common law powers to deal with an actual or apprehended breach of the peace.

The case was adjourned until Wednesday.


FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
Telegraph Pair sue police over May Day protest cordon - 57 hrs ago
Edinburgh Evening News Two sue Met over May Day protest - 69 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Police sued over May Day detentions - 69 hrs ago
Daily Mail Police sued over May Day detentions - 71 hrs ago
Sky News May Day Protesters Sue Police - 17 Jan 2005
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