Officer cleared of assaulting protester
A POLICE officer has been cleared by magistrates of assaulting a hunt saboteur during a bad-tempered fox-hunt.Pc Keith Warren, who is based at Hadleigh, had been accused of grabbing hunt saboteur Bevan Earey by the throat and threatening him with a fist during a meeting of the Essex and Suffolk Foxhounds on September 14 last year.
A POLICE officer has been cleared by magistrates of assaulting a hunt saboteur during a bad-tempered fox-hunt.
Pc Keith Warren, who is based at Hadleigh, had been accused of grabbing hunt saboteur Bevan Earey by the throat and threatening him with a fist during a meeting of the Essex and Suffolk Foxhounds on September 14 last year.
After hearing two days of evidence, magistrates in Ipswich yesterday returned a verdict of not guilty on a charge of assault by beating.
Speaking after the case, a spokesman for Suffolk police said: "As is standard procedure in matters such as this the police will be submitting the file to the Police Complaints Authority who will then decide whether or not an internal action should be taken."
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During the trial, the prosecution had alleged Pc Warren, 48, threatened Mr Earey, a factory worker and long-time saboteur, with a fist to the face during a hunt held in Chattisham, near Ipswich.
Pc Dave King told the court that Mr Earey had appeared aggressive prior to the alleged incident involving Pc Warren and had heard him swearing about his police colleague.
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"I went to explain that I couldn't tolerate his comments about a fellow officer. He was aggressive and did come up close into my personal space," he said.
"There was no way his manner was friendly. He had complete disdain for the police force."
The court also heard how Lewis Mander, who was in charge of collecting the carcasses of the foxes during the hunt, had been allegedly threatened by Mr Earey earlier.
After the case, Liz Pettman, chairman of Suffolk Police Federation, said: "One of the concerns we have got is this is the third case where a police officer has been to court accused of assaulting somebody within the last 12 months and a not guilty verdict has been returned.
"Obviously we have some concerns that perhaps the CPS is being more stringent in cases involving police officers as opposed to members of the public.
"When the CPS are looking at files involving a police officer we feel they are applying a different standard than they would apply to a member of the public who has been accused of assault.
"There is a lack of evidence in all those which has been born out by the fact there have been not guilty verdicts.
"This incident occurred back in September – 12 months ago – and Pc Warren has been under a lot of stress during the past 12 months and so have his colleagues who have been called to give evidence."
Chris Yule, Chief Crown Prosecutor for Suffolk, denied the Federation's claims, saying that police officers are held to exactly the same standard as everyone else.
"All the cases involving Suffolk officers are not reviewed in the Suffolk office of the CPS," he explained. "We have a policy of those cases being reviewed out of county.
"That said, all of the cases are reviewed in accordance with the code for crown prosecutors."