4 Jul 2009

Compo to be paid over 1997 protest at Parliament

4:08 pm on 4 July 2009

Student protesters who were cleared from Parliament on the order of the Speaker have won compensation after a 12-year legal battle.

The Government has agreed to pay almost $202,000 in compensation for what the students claimed were breaches of their rights to peaceful assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom from arbitrary detention.

The protest against proposed measures to privatise education took place in 1997. It was suppressed by police on orders of the then-Speaker of the House, Doug Kidd.

Seventy-five people were arrested and 41 of them sued. Lawyers claimed the students were strip searched, assaulted, denied the right to a lawyer and denied bail.

An offer of settlement was revealed on Wednesday night and has been confirmed by the office of the Speaker.

The 41 people will share about $150,000 in compensation and receive a written apology from the Speaker of the House and the Police Commissioner. Another $50,000 will go towards legal costs.

Lawyer Tony Ellis says the cash settlement and apologies barely atone for the arrests, detention and mistreatment in police cells.