Unite officer to lodge complaint against the Met after vuvuzela arrest

Unite officer Ruth Hydon on a picket line in 2019

Unite has today slammed the Metropolitan Police after public disorder charges against a Unite officer on a picket line in Bexley, South London, were thrown out of court.

Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon was charged following an incident on a picket line outside the Thames Road depot on July 13.

Ms Hydon was charged with the ‘use of violence or intimidation to compel activity or abstention from lawful activity’, which was brought under the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act.

The charges were dismissed by Bromley Magistrates Court on Monday and costs were awarded to Unite.

According to police, Ms Hydon committed a crime, for which she could have been jailed for six months, because she blew a vuvuzela (a mass-produced plastic horn) in the direction of a member of Serco’s management team and raised her hands in defence whilst being pushed by the same manager.

At the time, Unite refuse workers were in dispute with Serco over pay and other issues.

Unite regional secretary Peter Kavanagh said: “It was clear to us from the beginning that our officer, Ruth Hydon, had absolutely no case to answer. It is hard not to see her case as an overzealous act by the police officers involved.

“The policing of this dispute was questionable from the start, more reminiscent of the 1980s than of a peaceful picket and demonstration in 2021. It is a key pillar of democracy that trade unionists should be free to carry out their lawful duties without fear of intimidation or persecution from the forces of law and order. Maybe the Met needs to remember that.”

Unite regional officer Ruth Hydon said: “Waiting to appear before the court for a crime I clearly had not committed has had a detrimental effect on my mental health and caused me and my young family unnecessary stress.

“As a law-abiding citizen and a trade unionist, it was very worrying to be targeted by the police because I was standing on a picket line. I will now be lodging a formal complaint with the Met Police because this case should never have come before the court.”

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