Kingston professor helps to clear student in court

Student protester Alfie Meadows was cleared in court over charges of violent disorder.

Marc Williams

Student protester Alfie Meadows, 22, was cleared of all charges this month at Woolwich Crown Court.

He spent the last two years recovering from the injuries he sustained after allegedly being struck by a policeman’s truncheon during the national student protests in London in December 2010.

Throughout the two-year court case Professor Peter Hallward actively supported the battle to clear Alfie’s name.

Victory for student protesters

Prof Hallward said: “It’s a major victory, not just for Alfie but for everyone who opposed the education cuts and fee increases. But of course, it doesn’t even begin to compensate Alfie himself for the years of disruption he’s had to endure.”

While still recovering from emergency surgery in hospital, police charged Alfie, of Brixton, with violent disorder, meaning that he would not be able to sue for the life-changing injuries he sustained.

Before coming to Kingston, the professor of modern European philosophy taught Alfie while on an MA course at Middlesex University.

That course was put into jeopardy when cuts to the University meant it had to be stopped but Alfie campaigned to keep it.

Life-changing injuries 

Prof Hallward met Alfie again at the student protest against the increase of tuition fees. He bumped into Alfie who was dazed and confused after being seriously injured.

“My partner and I found him [Alfie] wandering in Parliament Square a little after 6pm, pale and distraught, looking for a way to go home. He had a large lump on the right side of his head. He said he’d been hit by the police and didn’t feel well. We took one look at him and walked him towards the nearest barricaded exit as quickly as possible,” Prof Hallward said.

“Brutal New Era”

Prof Hallward wrote an article in reaction to the shocking events of the December 2010 protests. In a piece entitled A New Strategy Is Needed For A Brutal New Era he explained his experiences of the day and called for changes to police conduct.

He wrote: “My Kingston students say they saw people having panic attacks, people seized up with asthma, people who fell under the feet of the crowd. The fact that there were no deaths, one says, is a true miracle.”

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