Disability Protesters Clash With Police After Attempting To Storm Prime Minister's Questions


Protesters angry at cuts to welfare for people with disabilities have clashed with police as they attempted to gatecrash the main Commons chamber during Prime Minister's Questions.

Around 40 demonstrators, including 10 in wheelchairs, from a group called Disabled People Against Cuts were held in Parliament's Central Lobby after being thwarted from confronting David Cameron.

They were protesting against axing the Independent Living Fund, a payment that one protestor said prevents her being under effective "house arrest".

The Prime Minister was seemingly unaware of the fracas - which was recorded on social media - as he answered questions from MPs.

Janie Mac, a legal observer, whose role is to monitor improper behaviour by the police, told The Huffington Post UK that one demonstrator was "dragged out by both her arms", and that another was "kicked and punched".

She said: "One protester tried to go through with their carer and they (the police) grabbed them like you wouldn't believe.

"They were pushing people over wheelchairs. They were grabbing them in their wheelchairs. The police were pretty brutal.

"It was mass panic on their behalf. They are totally peaceful protesters. There was no need for that. I'm disgusted. The police lost their morals in the way they were handling disabled people."

Sally Booth, who has MS, said the payment was the "difference for most is us between getting out of bed in the morning, washing, getting dressed and given some food, and being parked in front of the television all day.

"It's not much of a life. Before I got the ILF money I was hardly going out at all. It's house arrest."

Wheelchair-bound Andy Greene, 40, of north London, said: "We tried to get in and disrupt PMQs to get our message about ILF across.

"We wanted to talk to MPs about how their decision effects people's lives.

"This was last resort because nothing has changed. This was born out of desperation because we aren't being listened to."

He added: "We tried our best to get through the doors but the cops got really aggressive with us and left people in wheelchairs on the ground."

He claimed part of the arm of his wheelchair was broken off in scuffles with police.

Mary Johnson, from Doncaster, South Yorkshire, said: "We tried to get down there because the Government needs to listen. We tried to get into the chamber but we were stopped by police."

She said she witnessed one protester being "dragged away by police" claiming officers' behaviour was "disgusting" and that they had been "pushing wheelchairs around".

A Metropolitan Police spokesman declined to comment on protesters' claims about the severity of the police response to their actions.

She told HuffPost UK: "Police were aware of an organised lobbying of MPs in the central lobby by a protest group.

"At around 12.20, officers were told the protesters were attempting to enter the Commons chamber. Officers prevented this.

"One person and their carer were ejected from the Palace of Westminster for disorderly behaviour. No one was arrested.

"The protesters were allowed to remain in the Central Lobby. Parliamentary business was not interrupted. Public access to the Central Lobby was restricted for around 30 minutes."

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