Protest planned over Luton police incident


Family and supporters of a disabled man who has allegedly been the victim of two disturbing incidents at the hands of local police are planning to hold a peaceful march to protest at his treatment.

Earlier this month, two police officers were cleared of all charges in connection with an incident in Luton in which they were alleged to have chased Faruk Ali, before one of them beat him.

But despite being cleared, both officers, PCs Christopher Thomas, 33, and Christopher Pitts, 39, are still suspended while the neighbouring police force in Leicestershire carries out an investigation into alleged misconduct.

PC Thomas had denied racially-aggravated assault and both men denied two counts of misconduct in a public office.

Both were cleared of the charges following a trial at Aylesbury crown court. They were also cleared during the trial of perverting the course of justice.

But there was shock at the verdicts among those who had campaigned for justice for Ali, who has autism and was allegedly attacked on 20 February as he put out wheelie-bins at the front of his own and neighbours’ homes in Luton, as he did every Thursday morning.

Now members of the Justice for Faruk Ali campaign are planning a peaceful protest march on 11 January, which will end with speeches outside Luton police station. They hope that hundreds of people will take part.

They want to protest about the treatment of Ali, and to call for the release of audio and video footage of the two officers that was taken from inside their patrol car on 20 February and was shown during the trial.

Members of Faruk Ali’s family are hoping that representatives of the National Autistic Society (NAS) – and other disability organisations – will attend the protest.

An NAS spokeswoman said: “We are in discussions with the family about what they would like from us.”

The Ali family have already instructed their lawyers to begin a civil case against Thomas and Pitts.

Leicestershire police are still investigating the 20 February incident and an earlier alleged assault against Ali that took place in 2011 – again at the hands of Luton police – with their work being overseen by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

A spokesman for Bedfordshire police said: “We will have a responsibility to facilitate any peaceful protest and to make sure that we fulfil our duty of care for public safety.

“We will of course speak with the organisers and other relevant partners to appropriately plan and prepare for a demonstration of this size and nature.

“As the officers in question are currently part of a disciplinary process it would be inappropriate to comment further.”

Picture: A Bedfordshire police car, but not the one used in the incident with Faruk Ali