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Jan. 21, 2010
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A pacifist is suing police for malicious arrest after he was held under anti-terror laws for staging a protest outside an Army base.
Politics student Jeremy Moulton, 19, has accused police of “overkill” after his home was raided by officers and dogs while a helicopter hovered overhead. He was arrested and cautioned after standing outside an Army cadet training base in Staines with a banner reading: “Stop training murderers”.
Officers then raided his home and the student was kept in cells overnight before he agreed to a caution for breach of the peace. But he says he did not understand that doing so would give him a criminal record.
Speaking at his parents' home in Staines, Mr Moulton said: “I only accepted the caution because I was frightened. I didn't feel I had breached the peace. The police response had been out of all proportion. They treated me like an al Qaeda suspect, questioned me for hours and took away my computer and student books.
“It must have cost tens of thousands of pounds. When the duty solicitor advised me to accept a caution I jumped at the chance to get out of there. I didn't realise the serious consequences of doing that. Nobody told me I would have a criminal record.
“I had only made a placard after I discovered the cadets were taught to shoot by firing at human-shaped targets. I have been against war all my life and I wanted to make my opinion heard.”
Hours after leaving the placard outside the base in June 2008, police swooped on his home, including armed officers, Mr Moulton claims. But he added: “About four or five armed officers were all set to come into the house until my mum persuaded them not to. She was worried about my young sister who was terrified. My parents, who are prominent in our local church, were also frightened.”
Mr Moulton, a student at Hull University, said he was taking action because he was refused an internship at the House of Commons and was barred from entering the US because of his criminal record. “That's when I became aware of the full powers of the State. It was a terrifying experience,” he said.
His lawyer, Alex Tribick, said: “There is still a basic right to freedom of speech in this country and Jeremy has been the victim of heavy-handed policing.”
A Surrey Police spokeswoman said they were contacted by a member of the public who had seen him measuring the Army cadet gates and acting suspiciously. She said officers could not find him and a helicopter was deployed.
“An 18-year-old was arrested, interviewed, and cautioned for a public order offence. Suspects are made fully aware that accepting a caution constitutes an admission of guilt. Surrey Police is satisfied this offender was dealt with correctly,” the spokeswoman said.