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Pc faces disciplinary hearing over ‘headlock’ arrest of girl, 13, outside Wapping School

PUBLISHED: 10:30 02 November 2017 | UPDATED: 18:34 02 November 2017

Police officer facing disciplinary meeting over 'hevy handed' arrest of 13-year-old schoolgirl. Picture: Met Police

Police officer facing disciplinary meeting over 'hevy handed' arrest of 13-year-old schoolgirl. Picture: Met Police

MPS

A police officer is facing a misconduct meeting over a 13-year-old girl being headlocked when arrested after a squabble with another girl outside Wapping High School.

John McDonagh and Joanne Whittaker, girl's grandparents, at Whitechapel rally condemning her arrest. Picture: Mike BrookeJohn McDonagh and Joanne Whittaker, girl's grandparents, at Whitechapel rally condemning her arrest. Picture: Mike Brooke

Allegations of “unnecessary use of force” were videoed by a passerby and circulated widely on social media immediately after the October 5 incident last year.

The girl’s grandparents, Joanne Whittaker and John McDonagh, struck out at the Met Police at a rally in Whitechapel the next month in which the mayor of Tower Hamlets condemned the “heavy handed” arrest. An investigation was started after the “use of force while arresting a 13-year-old girl” was referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. The girl was “de-arrested” a short time afterwards.

“There was substantial public interest in this incident following circulation of video footage of a portion of the incident,” associate commissioner Tom Milsom said in a statement to the East London Advertiser last night.

“The IPCC has conducted a comprehensive investigation and I recommended the officer attend a misconduct meeting to determine if he used excessive force.”

Joanne Whittaker at rally after arrest of her 13-year-old granddaughter hwadlocked by police. Picture: Mike BrookeJoanne Whittaker at rally after arrest of her 13-year-old granddaughter hwadlocked by police. Picture: Mike Brooke

The Crown Prosecution Service said there was “insufficient evidence” to bring charges.

But the IPCC agreed with Scotland Yard that a misconduct meeting should be held on November 17, followed by a published report into the incident.

The girl’s grandmother, Joanne, 52, told the Advertiser during last year’s rally: “It was only a squabble between two schoolgirls, no physical contact. Police officers must have thought they were struggling with a grown man with a weapon, or were in America or in a movie.”

It left the schoolgirl with swollen knees, bleeding and bruised, and marks on her back, neck and elbows, the grandmother claimed.

Rally supporting Stepney youth worker Zak Hussain (inset) later cleared by a court of 'resisting arrest' when headlocked by police in 2016. Pictures: Mike Brooke (rally) and Zak Hussain (inset)Rally supporting Stepney youth worker Zak Hussain (inset) later cleared by a court of 'resisting arrest' when headlocked by police in 2016. Pictures: Mike Brooke (rally) and Zak Hussain (inset)

Joanne said today after learning of the misconduct hearing: “We’re obviously relieved that the police officer is facing proceedings.”

But the family remain worried about the Met’s impartiality, according to their solicitor Lawrence Barker, from Bindmans law firm.

He said: “The police themselves are responsible for carrying out the proceedings and my client is justifiably concerned about how impartial those are likely to be. The images of a young schoolgirl being wrestled on the ground by a burly police officer caused understandable concern.”

Last year’s rally was called after another violent arrest the same week when 27-year-old youth worker Zak Hussain was headlocked by police outside Stepney’s Arbour youth club while cleaning his car.

He ended up in court in February this year, despite an outcry by Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs over “police heavy tactics”.

Magistrates at Stratford took just minutes to throw out the charge of “resisting arrest” while headlocked and Zak was acquitted with an unblemished record.

The rally was used to launch a petition to the Home Secretary calling for “an end to violent manhandling of young people”.

Borough Commander Sue Williams faced public criticism at a Neighbourhood board meeting earlier that month for the actions of her officers which brought condemnation from all political parties on Tower Hamlets council.

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