Anger at police ‘brutality’ as Dale Farm eviction begins

By Ian Dunt

There were accusations of police brutality today as officers used tasers and batons to try to force residents out of Dale Farm.

Members of the traveller community said riot police used tasers from the very start of the operation, while Essex police insisted they had responded to the throwing of rocks.

"Intelligence received indicated protesters had stockpiled various items with the intent of using these against bailiffs and police," Essex police said.

"The first officers on the site were attacked with missiles being thrown, including rocks and liquids. These officers were fully equipped to deal with this situation."

The Dale Farm Solidarity Campaign said: "Batons have been used on supporters and residents from the beginning of the eviction.

"One woman sustained such serious injuries from police that she had to be admitted to hospital.

"The plot of a resident who needs a breathing machine to survive has had its electricity cut."

Dale Farm supporters are trying to get an emergency injunction to halt the eviction, using allegations of "brutality and illegal destruction of property".

Local MP John Baron was at the site defending the eviction order, which comes at the end of a ten-year legal battle.

"The law has to be applied equitably and fairly and that's what we're doing here today," he said.

Around 150 riot police entered the site through a backfield in a dawn raid this morning, using hammers and wirecutters to break down a wall and fencing.

Critics attacked Basildon council's approach to the issue this morning, saying the local authority allowed private firms planning rights to develop greenfield land, but took a much harsher stance when dealing with the traveller community.