"I told him he was strangling me when he was doing it and he completely ignored me, and that's when I went into complete shock..."
On Saturday night, environmentalists the world over were horrified as video footage and photos of the arrest of Vanda, a mother from the Barton Moss Community Protection Camp, were flashed around the world.
The images showed a police officer with his arms around Vanda's neck, handcuffing her and dragging her across a muddy field, then watching as she appeared to have a fit. It led the Camp's lead solicitor, Simon Pook, of Robert Lizar Solicitors, to call in the United Nations and remark that "Greater Manchester Police appear to have discarded the European Convention of Human Rights into the gutter" (see previous Salford Star article – click here).
This morning Vanda was back at the Camp and, in an interview with Salford Star, accused Greater Manchester Police Tactical Aid Unit (TAU) of acting like "a pack of wolves"…
"It was brutality" she said "It was like you're sheep in the middle and a pack of wolves are all just ganging up on you, the whole lot…The TAU just lined up then came charging down the hill…"
She recalled that she was videoing another protector who was on a lorry near the iGas exploratory drilling site entrance when she saw other protectors being chased by police officers on the field beyond the fence from the road…
"I came down the embankment and, as I started walking over, the copper pushed me out of the way so I turned around and called him a `wanker'" Vanda recalled "It was the natural thing to say more or less, but then he spun on his heels, turned around and charged at me. I tried to run away but that's when they grabbed hold of me and basically dragged me around like a rag doll.
"He put my arms up my back, I told him he was hurting my arms and I couldn't feel them or anything but he gripped hold of my coat and dragged me across the mud" she added "I told him he was strangling me when he was doing it and he completely ignored me, and that's when I went into complete shock."
Vanda didn't go into a fit as first thought but the shaking that can be seen on video footage are spasms from a trapped nerve during her ordeal.
"They think that they trapped a nerve in the bottom of my back and hip and that's what was setting off all the spasms and they gave me something in the ambulance to stop it" she said "They said in the ambulance that my sugar levels had dropped, and that my pulse and my blood pressure was high but it wasn't because my body temperature was cold or anything. The hospital x-rayed my arms to make sure they weren't broken, they were just badly bruised.
"They de-arrested me in the hospital but still summonsed me for breach of the peace" she explains "The only reason I can think of for that is that they didn't want the press at the hospital.
"It was out of order what the police did" she concluded "I was treated wrong. I didn't do anything, all I did was walk down the field and he pushed me out of the way…"
This morning more bailiff notices, without headed notepaper or signatures, were handed out warning of `trespass' on Peel Holdings land. But it didn't stop around sixty people slow walking the iGas delivery lorries down Barton Moss Road.
As people shouted `Public Footpath', first a protector sat down in the road reading his rights, and then another lay down in the path of the police lines pushing the public up the road. There were no arrests.
The Barton Moss Community Protection Camp is now waiting to see whether any official documents will be produced from Peel Holdings and its various companies and whether eviction notices will be served.
* The Salford Star has contacted the Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner for a statement about Saturday's events but, so far, there has been no response.
UPDATE: 5pm 17th February
Greater Manchester Police and Crime Commissioner, Tony Lloyd, has sent over a statement which is fairly old in the scheme of things but there may be an update in the coming days...
Tony Lloyd said:
“There have been a number of incidents referred to the GMP’s professional standards department, where serious allegations have been made about police conduct at Barton Moss.
“There is legitimate public concern over this operation and it is right and proper that allegations of police misconduct are investigated fully and thoroughly.
“I have – publicly and privately – called on the Chief Constable to provide assurances that the operation at Barton Moss is proportionate. It is a complex situation where police have to balance the legitimate rights of people to lawfully protest with the rights of those who live and work in the local area.
“Given there are active investigations into the conduct of police, it is difficult for me to say more at this stage, but I expect the outcomes to be made public and if misconduct has occurred, appropriate action to be taken.”
Main photo by Stevanie, Vanda's daughter