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POLICE have been accused of intimidation and harassment after stopping a coach travelling to Sunday’s People’s Assembly protest in Manchester to conduct a body search of a young Asian woman passenger in public.
The coach was carrying supporters of the Keep Our NHS Public campaign from London to Manchester for the protest.
An unmarked police car pulled in front of it and led them to Knutsford service station about 20 miles from Manchester, where it was surrounded by about 30 police.
Three police vans and three police cars were involved in the operation.
Passengers on the coach told the Morning Star that they were told to evacuate the coach with their baggage, but that a young Asian woman was singled out and was body searched by two women police officers.
Other passengers said she was too traumatised to speak to the Morning Star.
Lewis Baker, who works for the campaign in London, said: “The reason they gave was that they had intelligence that she had plans to disrupt the Tory Party conference.
“They did not find anything on her and they let us go.”
Andrea Gilbert, an advocate for travelling communities who also works for homeless charity Crisis, said: “They searched her bag. Then they started searching underneath her bra strap.
“Then she had to hold onto the coach and they were searching her bra from the back.
“They found absolutely nothing. It was a waste of time and resources.
“It was intimidation and harassment. I was shocked out of my skin.
“I don’t get stopped like that in London. I’ve never experienced this — and that’s coming from a black activist.
“We were all intimidated by their behaviour. We were worried we were all going to be searched for no reason.”
A Greater Manchester Police statement said: “Yesterday, the force received information about the transportation of items which could have been used to cause damage.
“In response, officers boarded a bus and searched the vehicle and a known individual resulting in the recovery of a quantity of pyrotechnics.”
But Ms Gilbert added: “They found a flare on the coach — the sort used on demonstrations. That was it.”
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