Police clashed with angry disabled protesters yesterday as they tried to storm House of Commons chamber during Prime Minister’s questions.
A group of around 30 disability campaigners were protesting against planned changes to the independent living fund in England, which was closed for new applicants in 2010 and will officially close next week.
The Independent report:
Around 30 police officers formed a human wall as a group of around 10 wheelchair users and their carers pushed their way towards the House of Commons chamber, where MPs were grilling David Cameron over the government’s plans to cut £12bn from the welfare budget.
Jamie McCormack, one of the disabled protesters, told The Independent: “The heavy-handed response from the police was out of order.
“They physically man-handled a female PA (personal assistant) by restraining both arms back and elevating her neck back, which for someone with a neck injury, can paralyse you. They were trying to subdue her but she’s a slimly built woman being held by two burly cops. Another officer punched a PA.”
Mr McCormick, who is deaf and physically impaired, added: “Where is the Paralympic legacy we were promised? Is this it? Being beaten up in the House of Commons?”
The protest, organised by the Disabled People against Cuts (DPAC) group, were in Parliament to lobby against the government’s decision to end the Independent Living Fund, which was closed for new applicants in 2010 and will officially close next week.
The group said claimants were promised funds to help with independent living would instead be provided through local councils, but they said local authorities could not afford it.
However George Freeman, the government’s Life Sciences minister, condemned the violence, saying the protesters did their cause no good by rushing towards the chamber.
But DPAC defended their actions, insisting it had drawn media attention to their cause.
The Metropolitan police said there were no arrests but one person and their carer were ejected from the Palace of Westminster for “disorderly behaviour”.
‘At around 12.20pm officers were alerted to the protesters attempting to enter the Commons chamber.’ A Metropolitan Police spokesman said.
‘Orderly protesters were allowed to remain in the Central Lobby to continue their lobbying of MPs.’
Parliamentary business in the Commons Chamber was not interrupted and carried on as if nothing were happening outside.